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Season’s Readings 2007

A collection of reviews written by members of the Durham County Library Family Table of Contents Fiction

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Young Adult Fiction ......................................................................... 48 Juvenile Fiction

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Juvenile Nonfiction ......................................................................... 71 Juvenile Biography

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......................................................................... 82 Season’s Readings is made possible by the Friends of the Durham Library, Inc. ...

2007 Award Winning Publication American Library Association Best of Show for Bibliographies and Booklists North Carolina Library Association Best of Show for Bibliographies and Booklists

Fiction 47 Rules of Highly Effective Bank Robbers by Troy Cook Mystery F Cook, T.

Since she was 9 years old, Tara has been helping out her dad with the family business: robbing banks. If you are thinking Paper Moon, forget about it. After 10 years, Tara wants out of the business: she has no friends, no home, no life, and her dad is a dangerously violent psychotic. To make things more interesting, two greedy former partners are after them, as are the FBI and the local sheriff, whose son Max is more than a little interested in Tara for a different reason. Will Tara find a new way to make a living? Will Max find better ways to rebel against his father? What family reunions are down the road? Stay tuned… –Deb Warner

Absolute Power

by David Baldacci F Baldacci, D. If you liked Dan’s Brown’s, The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons, you will probably like this thriller by David Baldacci. It has much the same feel of action, suspense, intrigue, deception, and power play. Like both of those Dan Brown stories, Absolute Power starts with a dead body. The story is set in Washington D.C. and Virginia, and is heavily entrenched in the Washington political scene. Absolute Power involves the President of the United States, the Secret Service, a sex scandal, forensic evidence, and much more. –Elizabeth Watson

The Assassination Bureau, Ltd.

by Jack London F London, J. I was introduced to this book, along with several others, by my mother, back in my teens. London was in the process of writing it when he died. It was completed from his notes by Robert L. Fish and published in 1963. The edition I own challenges the reader to identify where London left off and Fish finished. Many of London’s works combine engrossing story-telling with a political or philosophical challenge. The Assassination Bureau, Ltd. is an adventure story but could also be viewed as an examination of the ethics of capital punishment. The Bureau specializes in assassinating, for money, people whom they have determined deserve to die. When a young man tracks a series of unsolved murders to the Bureau, he engages its leader, Ivan Dragomiloff, in a discussion about the ethics of deciding who is worthy of life or deserves death. Dragomiloff is persuaded that his organization is immoral. What he does to atone for his crimes makes for an exciting, action-packed chase across America. Although this book is not in the class of The Sea Wolf or Call of the Wild, it’s a strong story with several clever twists. –Bill Nesmith

The Blade Itself

by Marcus Sakey F Sakey, M. In The Blade Itself (his first novel), Sakey has created a thriller with depth, rather than just twists and turns. The hero, Danny Carter, is a petty criminal robbing pawn shops when one brutal murder changes his life. As his partner goes to prison for the crimes they both committed, Danny works his way up to a contractor position, moves in with his girlfriend, and generally lives a nice middle class life. That is, until his partner is released from prison and will stop at nothing to turn Danny back to their old ways. What could be just a violent thriller is made more compelling by the sympathy Sakey creates between the reader and Danny. Danny is now facing a world in which every choice could doom himself or someone he cares about, and it is a pot of his own making. –Jennifer Lohmann

The Blood of Flowers: A Novel

by Anita Amirrezvani F Amirrezvani, A. In her debut novel, Amirrezvani transports the reader to 17th century Iran. Told from the perspective of a teenage girl who must negotiate her own future in a time and place precarious for a woman, the book evokes the colors, tastes, and fragrances in the city of Isfahan, as well as the social dictates of the time. From the very beginning of this novel you will root for the young narrator who, against all odds, triumphs on the strength of her hands, mind, and will. –Kathi Sippen

Blood is the New Black: A Novel

by Valerie Stivers F Stivers, V. Miranda Priestly, watch your throat, for Lillian Hall is on the prowl. Ever wondered how so many professional fashionistas stay so thin? It might have something to do with that liquid diet they’re consuming. When Kate McAlliston delays medical school to pursue a passion for fashion with an internship at TASTY, the fashion magazine of the moment, she develops a new appreciation for the term “dangerous working conditions.” Is it true that, as mystery blogger insists, most of the top editorial staff are vampires? Well, they do sleep all morning and party all night, garlic is banned from the cafeteria, and everyone seems to drink that same red “juice,” but vampires? Whom can she trust? Does she want eternal life, even if it means being really, really well dressed? This book is silly but fun. –Deb Warner

Blue Christmas

by Mary Kay Andrews F Andrews, M. Mary Kay Andrews’ latest novel to feature Savannah antique dealer Weezie Foley and her best friend BeBe Loudermilk is just the thing to take your mind off the stress of the holiday season. When we catch up with Weezie this time, she is stressing out over Savannah’s downtown window-decorating contest, her boyfriend Daniel’s “bah,

humbug” attitude toward the holidays and the mysterious break-ins of her home, truck, and store. Things are actually beginning to look up for Weezie after she gets inspired by an antique Christmas tree pin. But can she solve the mysterious disappearances and get Daniel in the holiday spirit? After you read this you’ll want to read Savannah Breeze and Savannah Blues. –Lisa L. Dendy

Boomsday: A Novel

by Christopher Buckley F Buckley, C. This book is hilarious! Buckley envisions the next great national altercation: generational warfare between profligate Baby Boomers and younger Americans who don’t want to be stuck paying the bill. This conflict provokes the most outlandish presidential campaign in American history. Cassandra, a frustrated Washington spin doctor and devoted blogger, rails against the excesses of the older generation and their negligent handling of the mounting Social Security debt. She uses her personal blog to suggest that Baby Boomers be given government incentives to kill themselves by age 75. The proposal catches fire with millions of young people and an ambitious senator seeking the youth vote for his presidential bid. Boomsday is laugh-out-loud funny! –Kathi Sippen

The Camel Bookmobile

by Masha Hamilton F Hamilton, M. When Fiona Sweeney tells her family and friends she wants to do something that matters, they do not expect her to go to Africa to help start a library service to remote desert villages. Fi travels by camel to settlements where people have never held a book in their hands. Her goal is to bring Dr. Seuss, Homer, Twain, and Hemingway to a largely illiterate and semi-nomadic populace. However, because

the collection is so limited in numbers, the policy is if anyone fails to return a book, the camel bookmobile will stop coming. Though her motives are pure, Fi does not understand the people she seeks to enlighten. Encumbered by her western values, she finds herself in the midst of several struggles within the village of Mididima. There the camel bookmobile sparks a feud between those who favor modernization and those who fear the loss of the traditional way of life. The Camel Bookmobile is a wonderful novel that captures the riddles and calamities that often occur when two cultures collide. –Kathi Sippen

Charity Girl

by Michael Lowenthal F Lowenthal, M. A little known fact in U.S. history: during World War I, driven by an alliance between military efficiency experts and antiprostitution activists, the U.S. government detained some 30,000 women. More than 15,000, found to carry venereal diseases, were incarcerated for months at a time. The government’s crusade targeted women indiscriminately and many women were arrested for dressing provocatively or walking through certain neighborhoods without an escort. The majority were detained without having been charged with a crime. Charity Girl examines this dark period of our history. Frieda Mintz is a 17-year-old Jewish bundle wrapper who has struck out on her own in the wake of her mother’s determination to marry her off to a wealthy and much older man. After she spends one impulsive night with a handsome Army private, she is arrested and sent to a detention home for women infected with venereal diseases. This engaging novel and its characters expose an ugly part of U.S. history when the government used excessive authority at the expense of some of its most vulnerable citizens. –Kathi Sippen

The Christmas Shoes The Christmas Blessing The Christmas Hope by Donna VanLiere F VanLiere, D. The first in this series, The Christmas Shoes, is a wonderful, inspiring story of two people whose lives briefly touch on Christmas Eve, and how these events can impact your life forever. If you are left wanting more after this first book, then the book to read is The Christmas Blessing. In this book the eight-year-old from the prior book grows up and is now a medical student coping with life, death, and insecurities. The third book, The Christmas Hope, reminds us that faith can overcome many things and that love conquers all. All of these are wonderful books to read not only for the holidays but on any day. –Priscilla Lewis

The End of California

by Steve Yarbrough F Yarbrough, S. Twenty-five years after he left town on a football scholarship to Fresno State, Pete Barrington returns to Loring, Mississippi, with his wife and daughter. Now a successful physician, Barrington is still seen by some residents as the local hero. Most of the locals don’t realize that the stories behind his departure and his return involve a sex scandal. The fabric of small-town life, with its religious fervor, its familiarity, and its gossip, is laid bare. As Pete and his family test the waters to see where they fit into this community, old resentment and jealousies are brought to the surface with undeniable tension, propelling the story forward to an unexpected conclusion. Steve Yarbrough has captured the culture and mores of small town America, where everyone has a history, and no bad deed is ever forgotten. –Lisa L. Dendy

The Extra Large Medium

by Helen Slavin F Slavin, H. Annie Colville can see (and hear) dead people, or, to put it more accurately, she has been pestered by dead people since she was a little girl. The first was an old woman in chocolate brown (they all wear chocolate brown) who constantly criticized her mother’s housekeeping. She’s constantly receiving information from strangers about Crown Derby teapots, romantic attachments, and even murder. It is immensely frustrating that her life is in limbo. Her mother died, passing right through the Waiting Room and beyond without revealing her father’s identity. No attempts to contact her are successful and Annie’s attempts to investigate on this side result in a restraining order. Her husband, with whom she was madly in love, has disappeared without a trace and she is unable to settle permanently until the seven years pass so he can be declared legally dead. Her narration is supplemented by contributions from her mother and others that help fill in some, but not all, of this charming story. –Deb Warner

False Witness: A Thriller

by Randy Singer F Singer, R. Bounty hunter Clarke Shealy receives a phone call that the Chinese mafia has taken his wife hostage. To get her back, Shealy must find a missing Chinese mathematician whose secret is a math formula that could cripple the Internet. Author Randy Singer has been nicknamed the “Christian John Grisham” and his other novels include Irreparable Harm, The Cross Examination of Oliver Finney, and Directed Verdict. His nonfiction title is The Cross Examination of Jesus Christ. –Donna Moss

The Fifth Vial

by Michael Palmer F Palmer, M. This is a medical thriller without complicated medical terms; its tightly woven plot centers on the theme of organ donation. The characterizations of three different protagonists (medical student,

detective, and science genius) are excellent and the plot speeds to an unpredictable ending. Using chapter headings quoted from Plato, this novel takes on larger ethical themes such as our roles in society and the nature of good and evil. It has real possibilities as a book club choice. –Donna Moss

Ghost Riders: A Novel

by Sharyn McCrumb F McCrumb, S. The “sunshine soldiers,” as Rattler calls them, are back, men whose idea of a good time is camping on a Civil War battleground, and playacting with period uniforms and weapons. As the bulk of the novel demonstrates, however, there was very little that was good about actually fighting that war, whether you were Zeb Vance, Governor of North Carolina, or Keith Blaylock, a poor mountaineer and Confederate conscript turned Union bushwacker. Melinda Blaylock cutting her hair and riding off to join her husband is straight out of a ballad, but there was more murder than romance in the way this one played out. The fighting was long, vicious, and very personal so personal that some of the fighters still haven’t forgotten old scores to be settled, over 100 years later. Rattler, sensitive to the supernatural, has sensed them and has been warned by another spirit that all the authentic detail is drawing some all-too-authentic attention. It’s the dark of night that is the dangerous time and it will take Rattler and Nora Bonesteel to fend off these ghost riders. –Deb Warner

The Girls: A Novel

by Lori Lansens F Lansens, L. Twin sisters Rose and Ruby Darlen have been known simply as “The Girls.” Raised by Aunt Lovey and Uncle Stash, who took them in after their mother abandoned them as infants, they have lived all their lives in the small town of Leaford, in an old farmhouse bordered by cornfields. This is the fascinating and heartwarming story of their shared life, two sisters who are ordinary in most respects, but who have a relationship of profound and unmatched intimacy: Rose and


Ruby are conjoined at the head as they face the world side by side. Now nearing thirty, Rose and Ruby are soon to be history’s oldest conjoined twins, and Rose decides it is time to write the story of her short but extraordinary life with Ruby. As Ruby observes Rose writing her story she decides that she wants to contribute her part of their life story. The reader shares in all of their experiences: first loves, losses, triumphs, passions. As the story of their lives together intertwines and diverges, building to an unforgettable conclusion, Lansens aims at the heart of human experience and the fundamental joy of connection. I loved this book. –Kathi Sippen

The History of Love

by Nicole Krauss F Krauss, N. Krauss’ second novel presents flawed and beautiful characters and then gently entwines them in a complex storyline. As a young writer, Leo Gursky “wanted to describe the world, because to live in an undescribed world was too lonely.” He falls in love and describes this experience in his first and only book. Fleeing the Nazis, he arrives in New York and apprentices with a locksmith. Sixty years later, Gursky is a solitary eccentric, by turns philosophical and comedic. Meanwhile, teenage Alma, who is named for Gursky’s heroine, is trying to rescue the remains of her family, a mother adrift in a cocoon of grief and a young brother caught up in a fantasy driven by fear of loss. This book is a powerful story about how love endures and finds its own way home. –Anastasia Bush

Hour Game: A Novel

by David Baldacci F Baldacci, D. Ever wonder what goes on in the mind of a serial killer, or what might drive a person to commit heinous crimes? In Hour Game, ex-secret service agents Sean King and Michelle Maxwell, who first appear in Baldacci’s hit Split Second, are back and on the trail of a serial murderer. This particular criminal sets the watches on the dead


bodies of his victims as a code, which is where the title originates. I enjoyed this book because I was completely surprised by who the murderer turned out to be, and I found the psychological aspects to be intriguing. –Elizabeth Watson

How to Seduce a Ghost

by Hope McIntyre Mystery F McIntyre, H. Lee Montgomery is a ghost writer for celebrity autobiographies. She’s also neurotic. She’s dated the same man for eight years, but is afraid to let him stay the night (he might mess up her routine). She won’t call anyone to repair her crumbling, London home (the noise might disturb her work). And then, her neighbor is burned in a clear case of arson. The subject of her most recent autobiography is a possible domestic violence victim and her best friend is avoiding her. In How to Seduce a Ghost, McIntire has created a wonderful mystery novel. Lee is the kind of character you sympathize with immediately, even as you recognize she is a pain in the butt. The setting, Notting Hill, is rich with characters and the regularity of good neighborhoods. This was one of the best mystery novels I’ve read this year. The second novel staring Lee Montgomery, How to Marry a Ghost, is now out and also a wonderful read. –Jennifer Lohmann

Invisible Lives

by Anjali Banerjee Romance F Banerjee, A. Invisible Lives is a fluffy delight with an Indian bent. Lakshmi Sen runs a sari shop in Seattle with her widowed mother. Lakshmi has a gift for knowing how to bring happiness to customers, friends, and family. To honor her father’s dying wish, she has agreed to marry a respectable Indian doctor who will uphold her family’s traditions, but then she meets all-American Nick. As Nick draws Lakshmi into his world she begins to question her decision to marry Ravi. But choosing between Nick and Ravi seems an impossible task, like intuiting the very nature of true love. Fun read. –Kathi Sippen


Jane Austen Book Club

by Karen Joy Fowler F Fowler, K. The key ingredients of California’s current-day Central Valley/ River City all-Jane-Austen-all-the-time book club are 6 months, 6 members, and 6 Austen titles. In celebration of the sustainability of Jane Austen’s 19th-century British novels, Jocelyn hand picks five other members to meet monthly in each others’ homes from March through August to critique the characters, themes, settings, and suitability of romantic matches therein. Besides the core of this unique novel—in half a dozen (surprise!) chapters—Karen Joy Fowler pens a very readable prologue, epilogue and reader’s guide with its quirky set of discussion questions posed by her main characters Allegra, Bernadette, Grigg, Jocelyn, Prudie, and Sylvia. This may get you in the mood to re-read these literary classics, all to be found and re-discovered on library shelves in regular and large print editions: Emma, Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice, and Sense and Sensibility. Several are also available as audiobooks and/or movies. –Susan Wright

Key Lime Pie Murder : A Hannah Swensen Mystery with Recipes

by Joanne Fluke Mystery F Fluke, J. Sometime sleuth, Hannah Swensen, owner of the Cookie Jar in Lake Eden, Minn., is judging the baking contest at the Tri-County Fair. When one of her fellow judges, home economics teacher Willa Sunquist, is murdered, Hannah determines to sniff out the killer. What more could one want! This is a mystery book about food and cats, plus recipes. –Rheda Epstein

Lamb in Love

by Carrie Brown F Brown, C. If you are looking for a quietly moving, exquisitely written love story, look no further than Carrie Brown’s Lamb in Love. Set in


a small English village in 1969, Lamb in Love introduces two unlikely lovers—“philatelist and bachelor and collector of obscure reveries” Norris Lamb and Vida Stephen who is “almost old enough now to be considered a spinster.” Norris’ life is forever changed when he spies Vida dancing alone in the moonlight to celebrate Neil Armstrong’s moon landing. The novel’s pace is gentle, and Brown gives ample time for each of her finely wrought characters to come to life. This little gem is highly recommended. –Marian Fragola

The Last Jihad: A Novel

by Joel Rosenberg Adventure F Rosenberg, J. A coordinated international terrorist attack used a jet airplane to kill the President of the United States—shades of 9/11? This novel was actually written nine months before September 11 and has added to the author’s uncanny reputation of having a prophetic voice. This is fiction, however, and Rosenberg writes his political-military thriller as a page turner. Tom Clancy fans who are looking for a similar author might try this one. –Donna Moss

I Just Want My Pants Back

by David J. Rosen F Rosen, D. Fans of Gen X humor will enjoy David J. Rosen’s book I Just Want My Pants Back. The novel’s main character, Jason Strider, has a problem. Well, many problems. He’s overeducated and underemployed, cannot manage to keep a girlfriend, and spends too much time in bars. But what nags at him the most is that his favorite (and last clean pair) of jeans walked out the door with his latest fling. When Jason’s next door neighbor and aging party girl Patty divulges a sad secret, Jason must decide whether to get his act together or continue to flounder through life as a glib hipster with squandered talent. If you like I Just Want My Pants Back, also try Brendan Halpin’s Long Way Back, which shares a similar tone and sensibility. -Marian Fragola


The Last Chinese Chef

by Nicole Mones F Mones, N. Maggie McElroy is a woman passionate about her job writing about food and the people involved in it, so passionate that she wasn’t quite ready to listen to her husband’s increasing hints about children. When he is killed in an accident, her grief is compounded by nagging guilt. She gets a call from the Beijing office of her husband’s firm informing her about a paternity suit against his estate, and begging her to come to China. Ironically, her editor helps fund the trip with an assignment to interview a hot, new Chinese chef. Sam Liang, reared American, has returned to China to follow his father’s family tradition of traditional Chinese cooking, much against his father’s wishes, but with the loving and nagging support of his uncles. The two stories intertwine as Sam accompanies Maggie when she interviews the child’s grandparents as her translator. Once again, Mones uses thoughtful, intriguing characters and one element of Chinese culture, in this case cooking, to illuminate family, politics, history, and even love. –Deb Warner

Lie by Moonlight

by Amanda Quick Romance F Quick, A. In this quickly engaging romance, Amanda Quick celebrates the important role of teachers in shaping the lives of their students, as well as the importance of true love. Set in Victorian England, Concordia Glade is trying to rescue her four students from a terrible fate when they are helped by the mysterious Ambrose Wells. Against his better judgment, Wells decides to hide Concordia and her four charges. Quick is an engaging and entertaining romance writer (Amanda Quick is a pseudonym for Jayne Anne Krentz) and this book is a standout for her. The plot and mystery move forward quickly, but what really sells this novel are the characters. The main characters are engaging and the four young women whose troubles propel the book forward provide light comic relief. The villains keep with the lighter tone of this novel, managing to be dastardly, without being so dark as


to be out of place in this novel’s feel. This is a perfect romance for a time when you need a good book to read and can’t spare the energy for a book fraught with tension or too many dark themes. –Jennifer Lohmann

Little Earthquakes: A Novel

by Jennifer Weiner F Weiner, J. I would classify Little Earthquakes as “chick-lit.” It follows three young, pregnant women who meet at a prenatal yoga class and form an instant bond. One is a chef who struggles with a weight problem, the second is a biracial newscaster married to a basketball superstar and the third is an event planner who grew up in poverty. The three mothers-to-be cross paths with Lia, a Hollywood actress who has suffered a terrible tragedy and has left Hollywood to return to her hometown to lick her wounds. I enjoyed this book because it is so spunky and funny, yet it also makes you think about motherhood, loyalty, how racism, classism, and “looksism” exist in contemporary society, and the value of friendship and how the everyday can sometimes be hilarious. – Elizabeth Watson

Love in the Present Tense

by Catherine Ryan Hyde F Hyde, C. For five years Pearl has managed to keep the past from catching up to her and her bright, frail 5-year-old son. Life has given her every reason to mistrust people, but circumstances force her to trust her neighbor Mitch to watch Leonard while she goes off to work. Then one day Pearl drops her son off with Mitch and never returns. Mitch raises Leonard from that point on, even when the boy is mandated to be cared for by a foster family. The novel is far-fetched and a little over-the-top. But I was so entranced by the characters and the way the book was written that I got up several mornings at 5 a.m. to read. If you like books that are a touch sappy, but beautifully written, I recommend this one. Hyde is the author of Pay It Forward. –Kathi Sippen


Making Money: A Novel of Discworld

by Terry Pratchett Fantasy F Pratchett, T. In the latest Discworld novel, Terry Pratchett once again manages to spin an engrossing tale while skewering modern society. Banking, economics, women’s lib, family relations, prejudice, and more fall victim to Pratchett’s sarcasm and satire. In Making Money, Moist von Lipwig has gotten the Ank-Morpork post office running so smoothly that he’s bored. The next challenge, taking over the Royal Mint and Bank, may create more excitement than Lipwig can live with. –Patricia Dew

The Man in the Brown Suit

by Agatha Christie Mystery F Christie, A. Is Agatha Christie ever funny? From my high school years, I don’t remember seeing a lot of humor in her books, but many of the television adaptations clearly have their light moments. This book answered my question: yes, most definitely. The Man in the Brown Suit, originally published in 1924, features a young British woman, Anne Beddingfeld, who stumbles across a bit of mystery and becomes determined to get to the bottom of it. With only a few pounds in her pocket, Anne sets sail on a luxury liner getting into more adventures than even she had counted on. Good bedtime reading. –Cathy Starkweather

The Man Who Melted

by Jack Dann Science F Dann, J. Jack Dann’s The Man Who Melted follows the struggle and journey of Raymond Mantle, a 22nd-century subliminal artist/ advertiser who is obsessed with finding his wife, Josiane. Mantle’s search picks up speed as he joins a ceremony of the Christian Criers, who plug into dying “Screamers,” as they are called by the masses, with psyconductors, to psychically connect to their unconscious thoughts. Josiane was lost to the Screamers and in the attempt to find her, Ray has lost all of his memories of her. His girlfriend of sorts, Joan, and his oldest friend/enemy Carl Pfeiffer are along for the ride.


As a “circuit fantome” (psychic link without benefit of machines) develops among the three, everyone’s secrets are laid bare. Dann’s captivating story about a future where psychological intimacy is for sale to the highest bidder is a fascinating study of human nature. The fact that this book, originally published in 1984, sees characters “ordering groceries off the Net” alone is incentive enough to read it, to see what else Dann envisioned for this particular future. Dystopia, star-crossed lovers, consideration of the existential nature of self, interdependence, trust and intimacy—this book has them all, with shades of Kurt Vonnegut, Philip K. Dick, and Carlos Casteneda. –Lisa L. Dendy

Maps for Lost Lovers

by Nadeem Aslam F Aslam, N. Aslam paints a painstakingly detailed portrait of a Pakistani immigrant family within a primarily Muslim community in England. The portrait is brought to vibrant life by the dramatic disappearance of Jugnu and his lover Chanda. Though unmarried, the couple had been embracing the contemporary values of the English town where they lived, but disgracing themselves in the eyes of the Pakistani community. Rumors about their disappearance abound, but five months go by before anything certain is known. Finally, one morning, Chanda’s brothers are arrested for the couple’s murder. Shock and disbelief spread through the community, and for Jugnu’s brother, Shamas, and his wife, Kaukab, it is a moment that marks the beginning of the unraveling of all that is sacred to them. This is a beautiful, powerful novel that explores the heart of a family at the crossroads of culture, nationality, religion, and the most personal crises of faith. –Kathi Sippen

The Memory Keeper’s Daughter

by Kim Edwards F Edwards, K. The memory keeper in the title is physician David Henry— who mends bones as his vocation and creates a portfolio of artful


photographic illusions for his avocation. As David’s wife Norah readies to give birth, a blizzard keeps the obstetrician from arriving. With the assistance of his nurse Caroline Gill, Dr. Henry steps in to deliver his flawless first-born child. Son Paul is followed in birth by an unexpected twin baby girl whose unmistakable facial features reveal Down’s syndrome. Unprepared to accept or reveal the truth, David invents a lie, telling Norah as she wakes that the second baby was stillborn. Caroline takes the newborn to deliver her anonymously to a local institution as ordered. But when Caroline finds that she can’t bear to leave her there, she rears Phoebe as her own daughter awash in love. Paul, by contrast, is raised by his birth parents in an atmosphere backlit by the pain of the past. In Edwards’ book, sepia-toned negatives are developed into a 25-year album of lives filled with grief, guilt, secrets, and shame. The use of photography as a metaphor drew me deep into her first novel and I can hardly wait for Edwards’ second print. I highly recommend The Memory Keeper’s Daughter for individual readers and book discussion groups. –Susan Wright

Nineteen Minutes: A Novel

by Jodi Picoult F Picoult, J. Jodi Picoult writes novels that explore every viewpoint of a social issue. In this book, she has closely examined a school shooting and, with microscopic detail, has portrayed every person involved: the shooter, victims, parents, law enforcement, teachers, students, and community members. In the 19 minutes that the school shooting takes, lives are forever changed. Picoult describes the background of each of these lives that lead up to the 19 minutes, how they are connected, how they affect each other and the complexity of human relationships. It’s a painful though captivating read, asking each of us to consider how we judge and treat one another. –Archie Burke


The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency

One Prayer Away

Off Armageddon Reef

Overclocked: Stories of the Future Present

by Alexander McCall Smith Mystery F McCall Smith, A. I love this book and all that come after it in the series! Precious Ramotswe is the first and only female detective in Botswana. She opens up her office and people start coming with cases of all sorts. She is intelligent, inquisitive, and intuitive, and this combination creates a successful, jolly woman with a full life. The characters are superb, the situations are serious, but full of comedy, and the setting is intriguing. I loved gaining a little glimpse into the spirit of a beautiful, seemingly simpler place. –Carrie Rider

by David Weber Science F Weber, D. 400 years in the future, Earth and all of its interstellar colonies have been destroyed by a mysterious alien race, known as the Gbaba. In a desperate attempt to preserve the human race one ship of colonists was sent from Earth, prior to its destruction, successfully evading detection by the Gbaba. Upon locating a new home on the planet of Safehold, many of the mission administrators, fearing any technology could result in energy emissions that could betray their location to the Gbaba, brainwashed the colonists and created a society with strict religious and cultural norms discouraging innovation. However, another faction among the colony’s administration disagreed and managed to place an avatar of one of the last defenders of Earth on the planet. Eight centuries later, this avatar awakes with a mission to preserve the truth and help guide the colony’s development through its more dangerous stages. Calling himself Merlin, he becomes an advisor in the Kingdom of Charis, a country that is beginning to welcome invention, and is soon embroiled in saving this nation from its many enemies. Off Armageddon Reef is an engrossing read full of political maneuvering, military battles, and excellent world-building. –Shelley Geyer


by Kendra Norman-Bellamy F Norman-Bellamy, K. Kendra Bellamy is one of my favorite Christian authors. In this book Mitchell Andrews’ personal loses, such as never knowing his parents and being raised by his grandparents, drive him to alcoholism and depression. He seeks, and receives help, from the Betty Ford Clinic. He also loses his wife Virtue who truly is his soul mate during this ordeal. This is a dynamic story of betrayal, alcoholism, and abuse. This book allows you to keep the faith and know that God knows your heart. –Priscilla Lewis

by Cory Doctorow Science F Doctorow, C. Canadian Cory Doctorow has gained a cult following among techies and devotees of hard core science fiction. These stories give us a good idea why. Doctorow takes a futuristic look at intellectual property in “Printcrime.” He sends up flattering parodies of Enders Game and I, Robot as well. But the story that will stick in your brain is “When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth.” Systems administrators all over the world try to patch together a functional Internet as their only information channel in the aftermath of a massive biological weapon strike. Doctorow gives old school sci-fi a new twist, with enough techie jargon to keep even a systems administrator happy. –Lisa L. Dendy

The Penny

by Joyce Meyer and Deborah Bedford F Meyer, J. Joyce Meyer is a Christian motivational speaker and top selling nonfiction author. In this book she teams up with inspirational fiction author Deborah Bedford. This story tells of a 14-year-old’s abusive childhood in the 1950s. Jenny as she is called in the books finds a penny on the pavement one day. That day sets off a chain of events, not only in her life, but the lives of her entire family. This book tackles many issues and was very inspirational—how the significance of a penny can change one’s life. –Priscilla Lewis


The Pesthouse: A Novel

by Jim Crace F Crace, J. This novel is set in a future America where government and industry have collapsed and the land is spoiled. Many of the few remaining people aim for the East Coast to the river with only one bank to try to flee to a better life in Europe. A young man seeking passage, but slowed in his trip by an injured leg, and a young women carried from her village to a pesthouse because she has the flux, meet and journey together, despite sometimes being separated through a dangerous country. They come to trust and love each other. They make an interesting choice and use an interesting tactic to make their escape from a frightening situation. –Carol Passmore

The Pillars of the Earth

by Ken Follett F Follett, K. When I told my great-aunt that I liked The Da Vinci Code, she told me to read this book. The Pillars of the Earth does have much the same thriller/suspense feel to it as Dan Brown’s novels, and it also has the historical elements of The Da Vinci Code. This book chronicles the building of a cathedral in the Middle Ages. I was awestruck by how much manpower, money, time and politics went into building the beautiful cathedrals of Europe. Follett really did his homework on this one. The sequel for this book just came out—it’s entitled The World Without End. –Elizabeth Watson

The Poe Shadow: A Novel

by Matthew Pearl F Pearl, M. It is a fact that Edgar Allen Poe died in Baltimore in 1849 under mysterious circumstances—some say severe inebriation; others claim he was deathly sick from lingering tuberculosis. His final days were spent in a state of incoherence and his burial was almost without ceremony.


But for Quentin Clark, narrator of The Poe Shadow, these inadequate facts hide more truth than they tell—and point to dark deeds done to the man he considers to be the greatest literary mind of his time. Quentin must battle the ongoing character assassination by the news press and critics like Rufus Griswold who found fabricating sensational lies to be highly marketable and much easier to create than a solution to the cold case of Edgar Poe. The Poe Shadow is a tale of a man attempting to illuminate the strange, perhaps sinister circumstances that surrounded Poe’s death. Quentin Clark, a young, handsome, well-born attorney, employs the methods of Poe’s Parisian detective, C. Auguste Dupin, to uncover facts, punish the guilty, salvage his legacy and home, and win the lady, Hattie, all while restoring his own reputation and that of America’s first literary genius. Not that anything turns out as expected. After all, Quentin’s seemingly irrational faith in Poe’s sanity and persistent pursuit of truth thrusts him into international power struggles, has him crossing Baltimore families named Bonaparte, gets him fired from his job, alienated from his friends, crawling among corpses stolen from a graveyard, imprisoned—all this as he is pursued and poisoned by international assassins. Matthew Pearl creates the early 19th century atmosphere through frequent archaic language, grave robbers, and raw characters like the slave trader, Slatter. His streets are forever spooky, foggy or misty, and he populates romantic locales like Paris with notorious, semi-fictitious detectives and violent rogues. The spinning conspiracy theories are all very entertaining but do finally yield to Pearl’s presentation of his own research on Poe’s final days (explained in a historical note). It all builds into an entertaining novel that delivers the fun of reading a detective story as well as a plausible theory of Poe’s demise in Baltimore. –Mark Donnelly


Poison Study

by Maria V. Snyder Fantasy F Snyder, M. The fantasy imprint of Harlequin (Luna Books) has been putting out some wonderful novels for people who like a serious romance in their fantasy story. The publisher’s criteria for its books are that the main female characters be strong and the romance credible. Poison Study is a fabulous example of what they are putting out. The first of a trilogy (the second, Magic Study, is already out and just as good), Snyder tells the story of Yelena, condemned to death only to be saved if she will become the food taster of the communist dictator who is trying to topple her dictator. Yelena has survived many horrors, but now it seems as if every one around her wants her dead. Snyder has created a fantasy with a strong romance between two forceful characters and the reader never doubts that when two independent people come together, they will be stronger together than they were apart. The plot moves quickly with many surprises and moments when your heart is in your throat. This was one of the best genre novels I’ve read all year. –Jennifer Lohmann

Pretty Little Mistakes: A Do-Over Novel

by Heather McElhatton F McElhatton, H. Remember R.A. Montgomery’s Choose Your Own Adventure books from the ‘80s? The ones with a single beginning and multiple endings, based on the choices that you make? NPR producer Heather McElhatton crossed a CYOA book with chick lit to create Pretty Little Mistakes. This book is a wildly satisfying beach read, with plenty of spicy adventures. Her writing is surprisingly lyrical and the plot twists are often quite dark. So, if you’re ready to take control of your reading life, make help Heather make that first choice: college or Europe? –Autumn Winters


The Religion

by Tim Willocks F Willocks, T. In 1565 the Turks laid siege to the island of Malta, held by the Knights Hospitaller. Calling themselves The Religion, the Knights Hospitallers were a militarized order of monks who often provided protection to pilgrims on their way to the Holy Lands. With a cast of memorable characters, including the disreputable hero Mattias Tannhauser, Willocks has created a sweeping, beautiful, and often brutal work of historical fiction. This novel is not for the faint of heart. The siege of Malta was vicious and Willocks does not skimp on any details, even the disgusting ones. However, his writing brings beauty to both the heavenly and hellish aspects of life and The Religion. The novel sucks readers in and doesn’t let them go until the very last pages. This may have been the best book I read all year. –Jennifer Lohmann

The Reluctant Fundamentalist

by Mohsin Hamid F Hamid, M. At a café table in Lahore, a bearded Pakistani man converses with an uneasy American stranger. As the evening progresses, the Pakistani begins the tale that has brought them to this fateful encounter. Changez is living an immigrant’s dream of America. At the top of his class at Princeton, he is snapped up by the elite valuation firm of Underwood Samson. Changez thrives on the energy of New York and positive feedback of his performance at Underwood Samson. His budding romance with stunning Erica promises entry into Manhattan society at the same exalted level once occupied by his own family in Lahore. But after September 11, Changez finds his position in his adopted city suddenly overturned and his relationship with Erica crumbling by the reawakened ghosts in her past. His own identity is in major shift as well, unearthing allegiances more fundamental than money, power, and even love. This is a very easy read, but deceptive in its complexity. It is riveting throughout as suspense builds with each turned page. –Kathi Sippen


Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

by Paul Torday F Torday, P. What kind of fool would want to spend huge amounts of money in an attempt to establish salmon fishing in the desert? Dr. Alfred Jones dismisses the proposal, only to have it bounce back hard with strong pressure from a Ministry hungry for good news out of the Middle East. When (under duress), he meets the Yemeni sheikh responsible for the idea, he finds him to be very wealthy indeed, but no fool. To the contrary, he is well aware of the difficulties involved, but he is also a passionate angler and a man with a vision—a vision of fellowship and even of miracles. Even Fred Jones, a man with little faith or romance in his life, is beginning to see possibilities he never considered. This engaging novel uses e-mails, diaries, transcripts and a variety of other records to poke fun at politics (of all sorts), bureaucrats, spin doctors, marital discord, and any number of victims, but some of the grimmer realities are not ignored. –Deb Warner

A Scanner Darkly

by Philip K. Dick Science F Dick, P. Philip K. Dick authored forty novels, including Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (which was made into the movie Blade Runner) in his lifetime. A Scanner Darkly stands out as his statement on his and others’ experiences with drug experimentation. Undercover narcotics agent, Fred, tails low-level user Bob Arctor and his friends. The government provides Fred enough money to buy drugs and hand them out to his junkie friends. But there’s one problem: agent Fred is Bob Arctor, a victim of brain damage caused by street drug Substance D. As Arctor’s drug use continues, destroying the links between the two hemispheres of his brain, special agent Fred struggles to stay out of government-mandated rehab. Fred can’t trust the government. Can Bob trust any of his friends, or even himself? A Scanner Darkly was made into a movie by Slacker director Richard Linklater in 2006. –Lisa L. Dendy


Set the Seas on Fire

by Chris Roberson Science F Roberson, C. Adventure-seeking Heironymus Bonaventure is serving as First Lieutenant on the HMS Fortitude during the Napoleonic wars when a storm separates it and the Spanish galleon it had engaged in battle and forces the ship into unknown seas. Weeks later, while searching for land, the crew of the Fortitude rescues a survivor of the Spanish vessel, who tells a strange tale of a mysterious island. Soon after, the Fortitude succeeds in landing on a tropical island whose inhabitants permit the crew to make repairs. Heironymus soon finds danger, however, as he and his crew, accompanied by a party of islanders, set out for the mysterious island of the “First Volcano” in search of the treasure carried by the Spanish galleon. Roberson’s novel is an entertaining mix of sea-faring adventure and paranormal fantasy. –Shelley Geyer

Simply Love

by Mary Balogh Romance F Balogh, M. I love a romance with a tortured hero and Syndam Butler is more tortured than most. Captured during the Napoleonic Wars, the handsome painter son of an Earl, lost an eye and his right arm, leaving the right side of his face and body permanently disfigured. Butler meets the independent Anne Jewell, school teacher and mother to an illegitimate son. These two scarred souls, each ostracized from society for different reasons, find love in one another. Balogh’s skillful writing takes the reader through Butler’s and Anne’s pain and joy as they learn to face their past and embrace the future only true love can bring them. Simply Love is everything a romance should be. The emotion in the book is powerful, the characters well sculpted and sympathetic, and the pacing softly pulls you into the story and keeps you engaged throughout the novel. Tough subjects such as illegitimacy, estrangement from family and post-traumatic stress syndrome are handled with respect and maturity. All in all, this is a winner. –Jennifer Lohmann


Snake Agent: A Detective Inspector Chen Mystery

by Liz Williams Fantasy F Williams, L. In the near-future Singapore III, Heaven, and Hell are real physical locations that can be visited, just as long as you have the right visas. Det. Insp. Wei Chen is a “snake agent,” which means that he has the dubious right to carry his investigations into these realms. This gives “hot pursuit” a whole new meaning, especially when a restless ghost girl leads him to the unsavory business dealings of her tycoon father, involving a black market trade in souls and Infernal political infighting. To add to Chen’s problems, his wife is in danger, his Celestial protector is unhappy with him, and a famous demonhunter is in town. He’s acquired an unexpected demon ally, but how much can he be trusted? –Deb Warner

Something Wicked This Way Comes

by Ray Bradbury Fantasy F Bradbury, R. Bradbury has written a wide variety of fiction, including some of the best known science fiction masterpieces in the genre. In his early days, he also published some pretty scary horror short stories. Something Wicked This Way Comes is usually classified as horror, but there is much more to the book than just a scary story. It is a disturbing allegory for our society, especially since 9/11. It begins when Will and Jim, best friends, meet a traveling lightning-rod salesman, who gives them a weird contraption covered with mystical symbols. Later, when the carnival rolls into town, what they see on the carousel sends them running. They find themselves trapped by a force that only Will’s father can help them fight. That force is fear, and it threatens to paralyze and enslave them. There are lessons here for us all. –Bill Nesmith

The Strange Files of Fremont Jones

by Dianne Day Mystery Day, D. Determined not to marry and to live independently, Fremont Jones moves from her father’s comfortable home in Boston to San


Francisco in 1905 to set up an independent typewriting business. Characters, from a young lawyer to an old leader of the Chinese immigrant community, come to her office to have their papers typed. Fremont Jones is soon embroiled in two mysteries: one, the death of a client and the other, the identity of a mysterious man who asks for his stories to be typed. With strong, interesting characters and a slight gothic feel, Day brings turn-of-the century San Francisco alive. This was a great short read on a plane trip from Chicago back to Durham. If you like this story, Day has written several in the Fremont Jones series. So far, they live up to the first one. –Jennifer Lohmann

Through a Glass Darkly

by Karleen Koen F Koen, K. This thick, juicy book is perfect for a vacation read. Koen tells the tale of Barbara, a Scarlett O’Hara-type character, the granddaughter of the Duke of Tamworth during the reign of the King George I. We follow Barbara as she marries a much older man, with whom she is deeply in love, and his ultimate betrayal of her. It’s deliciously melodramatic with intrigue and multiple love stories, an economic downfall and near revolution. If you find yourself with hot cocoa and a warm fire this winter (or a sunny beach in the Caribbean) and need something to match the indulgence of the day, this is a perfect book. –Jennifer Lohmann

The Uncommon Reader

by Alan Bennett F Bennett, A. This wonderful novella will make sure you never look at the Queen of England in the same way again. One day chasing down her rowdy corgis, the Queen discovers the bookmobile parked outside the kitchen at Windsor castle. Not wanting to appear rude, the Queen enters the bookmobile and begins a reading journey that changes not only her life, but all of the lives around her. Bennett’s fictional queen discovers “You don’t put your life into your books. You find it there.” Any book lover will agree, and will enjoy this delightful read. –Jill Wagy


The Undomestic Goddess

by Sophie Kinsella F Kinsella, S. Samantha Sweeting is a young, successful lawyer at an impressive London law firm, with dreams of soon making partner. When a huge mistake appears to wreck not only her chances of making partner but her whole career as well, Samantha walks out of her office in shock, totally unaware of where she is going or what she is going to do. She gets on a train and gets off in the middle of nowhere. Ringing the doorbell at the nearest house, she asks for directions and is mistaken for the new housekeeper. Rather than face her crumbled career in the city, she takes the job and struggles to learn all the domestic skills so foreign to her workaholic life. As Samantha’s confidence in herself grows, an opportunity to clear her name in London arises. Will she choose the simple life and love in the country or will she return to the high-profile, stress-inducing life in corporate law? You’ll have to read the book to find out. –Lisa L. Dendy

Water for Elephants: A Novel

by Sara Gruen F Gruen, S. I picked this book up at a bookshop in Blowing Rock, NC; featured because it was published in Chapel Hill. It caught my eye because I’m an elephant collector, but I quickly discovered that there was much more to the book than elephants. The story is about circus life in the 1930s in the Midwest. The author alternates segments of the circus life with the current life of the main character, a 93-year old almost-veterinarian named Jacob Jankowski. Jacob is now in a nursing home, and we experience his frustration with that life as well as the trauma of his former life. For additional spice, Gruen adds a good love story, a couple of nasty villains, and of course, Rosie the elephant. I hope the writer’s approach, as well as the unfolding of the circus story, will captivate you as much as it did me. –Joyce R. Sykes


The Woman in White

by Wilkie Collins F Collins, W. Considered one of the greatest Sensation novels ever written, and one of the novels that created a new genre, The Woman in White is a thriller beyond compare. Published serially in the 1860s, Collins uses the pastoral surroundings of an English country home to create villains hiding behind every sofa and suspecting eyes in every family portrait. The hero, Walter, begins the novel with an eerie meeting between himself and “the woman in white.” Walter is determined to solve the mystery of the strange woman in white and free his beloved from the insane asylum in which her husband has locked her. Using many different narrators and narrative styles including letters and diaries, Collins creates a story in which no one, not even the reader, knows the truth of the situation. To our modern eyes, the pacing of the novel feels slow at first, but the wit of Collins’ characters (especially the devilish Count Fosco) and the slowly unfolding mystery keep you reading. At some point in the novel, you forget it was written in the 1800s and begin looking over your shoulder and questioning those you hold dear and thought you trusted. –Jennifer Lohmann

The Yellow Wallpaper

by Charlotte Perkins Gilman F Gilman, C. Recognized as one of the important feminist works of the late 19th-century, this short (29 pages) work is also a classic of gothic horror. The author tells the story, through her diary, of a woman who has recently rented a large, old house with her husband, a physician. Apparently, they are renting this mansion while their home is being renovated, and to allow the wife a rest cure, to recover from what her husband insists is a “temporary nervous depression—a slight hysterical tendency.” The room her husband has chosen for them, the old nursery, is the center of the story and the wife’s existence. While it is described as light and airy, it has some very ominous features. The bed is bolted


to the floor, “the windows are barred for little children, and there are rings and things in the walls.” It is the wallpaper, however, that begins to dominate the wife’s mind. This is a great little story to read in one 45-minute sitting. The library’s copy includes a biographical sketch of the author, as well as commentary on The Yellow Wallpaper and other feminist writings of the era. –Bill Nesmith

Nonfiction After Cancer Treatment: Heal Faster, Better, Stronger

by Julie K. Silver, M.D. 616.994 Silver I began this book thinking of my friend, who was being treated for a second occurrence of breast cancer. Dr. Silver is a physician and cancer survivor who writes with simple clarity and honesty from both perspectives. As a physiatrist and a rehabilitation specialist, she developed a plan to reclaim her health quickly and optimally after cancer treatment and used this experience to write her book. A practical, hands-on guide, Dr. Silver’s book sums up a vast amount of research behind the choices cancer survivors must make on a daily basis, covering every aspect of recovery, including vitamins, daily chores, alternative medicines and therapies, moods and fatigue, pain and spirituality. Dr. Silver is the recipient of the 2006 Lane Adams Quality of Life Award, the American Cancer Society’s most prestigious award. –Anastasia Bush

Amelia Earhart : The Mystery Solved

by Elgen M. Long and Marie K. Long 629.13 Long I have always been fascinated by the question of what happened to Amelia Earhart. Did she ditch her plane in the ocean? Was she captured by the Japanese? I found this book to be highly readable and not too boring or too scholarly. Elgen Long and his wife, Marie, provide convincing evidence that Amelia’s plane ran out of gas and she was forced to make an emergency water landing that neither she nor her navigator survived. Exceptional nonfiction. –Elizabeth Watson



Brighter Leaves: Celebrating the Arts in Durham, North Carolina

To be published by Preservation Durham, 2008 Brighter Leaves looks at the architecture, music, theater, dance, visual arts, and crafts our local artists have created and at the individuals and organizations that have made Durham’s arts scene what it is today. The book consists of eight chapters, an appendix, an index, plus nearly 200 photographs. The first chapter relates Durham’s development as a city in conjunction with its early artistic efforts. The remaining chapters focus mainly on the last 55 years. The extensive appendix, arranged alphabetically by name of artist, organization, or place, provides much additional information. I look forward to using it for quick answers to questions such as “Where did Chuck Davis grow up?” and “Tell me about the architects who designed the Hill (CCB/SunTrust) Building.” Brighter Leaves: Celebrating the Arts in Durham, North Carolina, is a wonderful addition to the literature of Durham history. –Lynn Richardson

The Cake Mix Doctor

by Anne Byrn 641.865 Byrn For those of us who use the holidays as an excuse to bake, The Cake Mix Doctor by Anne Byrn is a helpful companion. Easy to use and read, The Cake Mix Doctor is a good cookbook to have on hand when you do not have the time or energy to make a cake from scratch or simply want some ideas to punch up your next potluck offering. I particularly like the hot buttermilk glaze, which compliments almost any plain cake. Photos, interesting sidebar tips, and an explanation of why cake mixes are so magical round out the 150 recipes in the book. From simple and light, to rich and decadent, The Cake Mix Doctor has a recipe for every taste and every occasion. –Marian Fragola


Crowns: Portraits of Black Women in Church Hats

by Michael Cunningham and Craig Marberry 391.43 Cunningham This book is an exploration of the cherished African American women’s custom of wearing hats to church. Craig Marberry has captured the passion with which the women he has interviewed view their hats—the pride, nostalgic family memories, religious experiences and identities they share with him, shape the written pages of this book. The black and white photographs taken by Michael Cunningham are stunning portraits of impressive black women who wear their extraordinary hats with “hattitude,” Deirdre Guion’s name for the attitude required to wear a hat well. The “hat queens,” as Marberry calls them, share stories that are amusing, touching and fascinating—as compelling and individual as the hats they wear. You’ll love these women AND their hats! –Andrea Teute Riley

Dishwasher: One Man’s Quest to Wash Dishes in All 50 States

by Pete Jordan 648.5 Jordan This is the kind of book that makes you laugh out loud. On the DATA bus, at 7 a.m., Pete Jordan didn’t aspire to do much—all he wanted to do was wash dishes. Then he got the idea to wash dishes in every state in the Union and start his own zine about his escapades. This book is his story, and his story is funny. Jordan attracts absurd characters because he is a bit of an absurd character himself. You can read about the delights of the “bus tub buffet” and meet the character of “Chef Dumb.” Read and admire his complete lack of ambition, his disdain for typical American consumption, and just laugh at his antics. This book is nearly impossible to describe, but it’s a treat to read. –Jennifer Lohmann

Dog Training in No Time

by Caroline Davis and Keith Davis 636.708 Davis Did you just bring home a cute new puppy, or do you need to fine-tune a few manners with the dog you’ve had for a while? In either case, Dog Training in No Time may be your new best friend (after


“man’s best friend”). The book covers planning for your new dog and training from the very first day. Each “lesson” is presented in a twopage spread, with step-by-step guidelines, key points, extra tips, and helpful illustrations. Crate training, begging, barking, chewing, leash manners, housebreaking, and aggressive behavior are addressed, along with a number of other topics. With this useful resource, you can become the perfect pet owner, and your dog, the perfect pet. –Lynne Barnette

Going, Going, Gone? Animals and Plants on the Brink of Extinction and How You Can Help

by Malcolm Tait 333.952 Tait Stunning photos combine with clear and precise text to make a winning book that emphasizes the need for ongoing conservation efforts throughout the world. Tait contacted 99 international agencies, large and small, and asked each to choose one animal or plant that they felt symbolized their conservation efforts. Tait included the Bengal Tiger to round the number up to 100 plants and animals that are in danger across the globe. Each two-page spread contains a lovely full-page photo of the given species, a brief description of the plant or animal and the reason for its inclusion in the book. There is also a fact box that includes the scientific name, the range, the threats, and the plant’s or animal’s conservation status (e.g., threatened, endangered, or extinct in the wild). This would make a fantastic gift for a teenager who is a budding conservationist. Particularly nice is an inset for each species which describes ways we can help, like planting milkweed for Monarch butterflies or avoiding products with palm oil to prevent deforestation of rain forests. Also included with every plant or animal is a Web site where readers can gather more information. A very useful and very beautiful book. –Sam Wikstrom


I Golfed across Mongolia: How an Improbable Adventure Helped Me Rediscover the Spirit of Golf (and Life)

by André Tolmé 915.173 Tolme Tolmé recognized the “absurdity of one man hitting a golf ball across Mongolia,” so his book is fun, and I’ve never played golf. The bits about golfing deal with terrain, losing balls, wind, blisters, and the wonders of the three iron. The bits of history are brief and well-written. But there is lots about food and gers (yurts), weather (his tent has a tendency to blow away-wind again), transportation, and language. The bit about politics even includes a comparison to the 2000 U.S. election in Florida. Unexpectedly enjoyable. –Carol Passmore

I Got Your Back: A Father and Son Keep it Real About Love, Fatherhood, Family, and Friendship

by Eddie Levert and Gerald Levert 305.388 Levert For all you Eddie and Gerald Levert lovers here’s one you have to read. In I Got Your Back, Eddie and Gerald talk about their failures, concerns, fears, and triumphs as father and son. Eddie and Gerald deal with the themes of fatherhood, male bonding, and malefemale relationships. Every father and son should have this type of bond. –Wanda Rascoe

The Last Shot: City Streets and Basketball Dreams

by Darcy Frey 796.323 Frey I know, I know. You’re skeptical. “A sports book?” you say. “I don’t like sports.” Don’t worry—I don’t either. It would be a shame; however, to let your sports aversion prevent you from reading Darcy Frey’s The Last Shot, the Durham Reads Together 2007 selection. In The Last Shot, Frey gives readers a window into the lives of four extraordinary athletes growing up on the mean streets of New York’s Coney Island neighborhood. Frey, a journalist and regular contributor to the New York Times Magazine, not only draws you into the world of Corey, Stephon, Tchaka and Russell, but discusses critical themes


like the opportunities and challenges that accompany being gifted and promising; the tensions of growing up in crime and poverty, especially during adolescence; and how poor schools and poverty take their toll, even on hard-working youth. One of the boys chronicled in the book, Stephon Marbury, has gone on to become a basketball superstar, earning a multi-million contract from the Knicks. What happens to his fellow players makes for a story that is poignant, powerful, and real. –Marian Fragola

The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook: Stories and Recipes for Southerners and Would-be Southerners

by Matt Lee and Ted Lee 641.597 Lee Try the Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook if you like smart and respectful “New South” cooking with a pronounced Charleston flavor. I loved this book because 1) it notes the similarities between boiled peanuts and edamame, and 2) it includes recipes for two Cheerwine cocktails. Also, the Lee Bros. version of the South is very inclusive; they only moved to Charleston in their teens and currently reside in Brooklyn. –Autumn Winters

Malcolm X: A Graphic Biography

by Andrew Helfer and Randy Duburke 741.597 Helfer This is a great biography in that it gives another view of Malcolm’s life that is a little different from the description in Alex Haley’s the Autobiography of Malcolm X. Malcolm X really didn’t become loved and needed by the majority of the Black population until he was killed. Malcolm X is a hard figure to represent in any kind of biography; however Haley and Helfer have both done an excellent job. Andrew Helfer covers the mandatory biographical high points: childhood, early influences, the conversion to Islam, and Malcolm X’s famous trip to Africa are all presented in the story. Some of the drawings come directly from newspaper articles. The description


of Malcolm and Martin Luther King Jr.’s meeting was very moving and meaningful. The story of Malcolm X is not comforting, but it reflects a time when reality was much bolder and in your face with the harshness of it. Malcolm X helped changed the world and gave many hope and that’s why it is so important to write about him and praise him. Malcolm X: A Graphic Biography serves not only to remember the man, but to remember why we should. –Donald Bradsher

Marley and Me: Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog

by John Grogran 636.752 Grogran Newspaper journalist John Grogran and his sweetheart Jenny travel the road of life from being a young, childless, suburban couple to eventually raising their three children in the country. In choosing goofy “Marley” from among a litter of purebred Labrador Retrievers, their decision would be with them for many years to come. To say that their high-maintenance dog made a mess of their otherwise “perfect” existence is putting it mildly. If he were human, Marley would probably have been diagnosed with severe ADHD, oppositional defiance, and/or mental instability. Marley was almost immediately kicked out of obedience school due to being an overwhelming distraction to his canine classmates. At home, he regularly shredded, clawed, gouged, crashed, scattered, swallowed, and utterly destroyed almost any inanimate object in sight, especially when left home alone with any possibility of a rainstorm. However, Marley was the most constant, faithful companion possible, and drools pure love for the Grogran family of five. For nonfiction that reads like fiction, this book is both hilariously satisfying and deeply emotional as dog-owner John Grogran chronicles a 13-year love affair with the unbalanced Labrador. –Susan Wright


Penguin Life: Surviving with Style in the South Atlantic

by Andy Rouse 598.47 Rouse Penguins are among the most extraordinary of all Earth’s wildlife, surviving and thriving in the harshest and coldest conditions in the world. This book contains about 190 beautiful color photographs of these tough birds, capturing their antics and fun, as well as highlighting the harsh environment in which they survive. It should inspire us all to do something to reduce the effects of climate change. –Janet Levy


by Marjane Satrapi 741.594 Satrapi This story is based on Marjane Satrapi’s own personal experience of the Islamic Revolution in Iran. She introduces us to the effects of cultural change through the eyes of a child. This graphic novel is a political, historical, and extremely personal account of a girl’s growth into maturity. Born in Iran and educated at the Lycée Français, Satrapi is the granddaughter of one of Iran’s last emperors. She shows herself in the book as an extremely precocious child of Marxist parents, who educate her on the evils of the regime and stage their own rebellion at home by drinking wine and supplying their daughter with posters of Kim Wilde and Iron Maiden. It is from these experiences of Western culture that bring her to question what is happening around her. Why is the veil compulsory? Why are our neighbors missionaries? Why is it wrong to wear a denim jacket and Nikes? Persepolis is a very timely novel for today. It shows how we continue to put up boundaries and construct ideas about who fits in and who doesn’t. This is not a story about who was right, who gained the most, or who suffered tragically; this novel is on the importance of being aware of ourselves and understanding the consequences of change. –Donald Bradsher


Plant Survival: Adapting to a Hostile World

by Brian Capon 581.5 Capon Who knew plants were so cool? When the going gets tough, plants can’t just pick up and leave—they have to stick it out. This brief book tells just how they do it. How does an organism withstand the world’s worst winters in the arctic tundra, or the intense competition in a rain forest, or the grueling heat and sunlight of a desert? Come learn why some plants are short or tall, why other plants eat insects and why yet others have purple leaves. The wonderful illustrations by the author are a definite plus. –Cathy Starkweather

Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution

by Caroline Weber 391.009 Weber This was the biography that got me started reading biographies again. Released around the same time as the movie Marie Antoinette, Weber writes convincingly that Marie Antoinette was not a vapid, selfish queen only concerned about her appearance, as she has been portrayed in history. Weber makes the argument that Marie Antoinette was a smart woman who was eager to participate in the governing of her adopted culture, despite being stymied by French views of the role of the Queen of France. With her skillful writing and carefully created argument, Weber tells of a Queen desperate for a voice, who falls back on the only means of expression left to her—fashion. From being stripped of her clothing on the border between France and Austria to the choice of clothing she made for her execution, Marie Antoinette becomes a forceful personality trapped under a dying culture and an incompetent king. Marie Antoinette as a character comes vividly alive in this biography. As the reader, you watch her personality grow and change as she evolves from a loved little girl in Vienna to the hated Queen of France. She becomes less a relic of history and more like a tragic character from a beloved novel. –Jennifer Lohmann


Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Fight Terrorism and Build Nations…One School at a Time

by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin 371.822 Mortenson Although this is not the best book ever written, it is an important book for all of us who live in the U.S.A. It is the story of Greg Mortenson and his personal mission to build schools for povertystricken areas in remote Pakistan and Afghanistan. Greg Mortenson is nursed back to health by a family in the village of Korphe after a failed attempt to climb K2 in the Karakoram Mountains. Moved and inspired by the family’s kindness, Mortenson vows to return and build a school. Over the next decade Greg Mortenson defies culture, lack of funding, forbidding terrain, politics, and many other obstacles, to build 55 schools. Educating the children in remote areas where new Taliban and Islamic extremists are recruited is the best way to combat terrorism, believes Mortenson. Read this book and you will believe too. –Kathi Sippen

A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen: Easy Seasonal Suppers for Family and Friends

by Jack Bishop 642.4 Bishop Resolved to eat more vegetables in 2008? Trying to eat local and seasonal produce? Jack Bishop, executive editor of Cook’s Illustrated, has created a near-perfect, easy, vegetarian cookbook. Organized by season, the dishes are simple and use few ingredients. More importantly, they are delicious. I recommend the chard burritos, mole tofu, and his turnip stir-fry. Each one is perfect for a weeknight, taking little time to prepare and tasting delicious. I had this book out of the library for my maximum allowed nine weeks (one original check-out, and two renewals) and then was finally forced to buy it. For nearly two months, we cooked out of this every night. –Jennifer Lohmann


Biography Breaking Back: How I Lost Everything and Won Back My Life

by James Blake B Blake, J. If you think Breaking Back is strictly a tennis book, think again. James Blake takes us on a devastating journey in which he breaks his neck, loses his father to cancer, is diagnosed with shingles and fights back to become one of the top ten tennis players in the world. Using his father’s memory as inspiration, Blake re-invents himself both on the court and off. Blake’s gentle voice makes this story approachable and the reader ends up rooting for him by the end. I recommend this biography for avid tennis pros, or not-so-avid tennis fans. And for those of us who are tennis novices, Blake includes a small glossary of tennis terms! –Nicola Bleau

Diana Ross: A Biography

by J. Randy Taraborrelli B Ross, D. Diana Ross has been a favorite of mine since I was a little girl. I’ve read numerous books about her, but by far this is the best one. This book arrives 43-years after the Supremes’ first hit. The history has become more ancient and can be viewed a bit differently. It is so informative that it really grabs you. The photos in this biography are of top quality. I especially appreciated the three-dimensional study of The Supremes and Diana’s relationships with her former singing partners. Her relationship with her mother and father are quite different from each other and laid the foundation for a very complex and, at times, insecure personality. Further family relationships are


examined and, this book paints a picture of a very family-oriented Diana Ross. This book is a rich, deep, thorough portrait of an amazing woman. Whether or not you are a Diana Ross fan, if you like reading biographies, you will get your fill with this one as Diana’s story is truly an American Dream come true. –Michelle Hall

The Invisible Wall: A Love Story that Broke Barriers

by Harry Bernstein B Bernstein, H. Bernstein was 93-years-old when he wrote this charming memoir of growing up in a working-class neighborhood in a small English mill town in the early 1900s. What distinguishes this memoir is that Bernstein’s neighborhood had an “invisible wall” dividing the Jewish families on one side and the Christian families on the other. This biography is recommended for its moving story of a workingclass Jewish family in a predominantly Christian town. –Kathi Sippen

Leap of Faith: Memoirs of an Unexpected Life

by Queen Noor B Noor American born Lisa Najeeb Halaby, one of the graduates of Princeton’s first co-ed class in 1974, was working in the Middle East as an Urban Planner, when she met and fell in love with the charismatic King of Jordan, “King Hussein bin Talal.” Queen Noor tells the poignant story of how, after a worldwind courtship and marriage to one of the most powerful men in the world, she had to struggle to learn the culture, grow as a woman, mother, wife and Queen of Jordan. She tells how she had to learn to share the man she loved with an entire country. Her story gives an insight to the growing tension between the Middle East and United States, and how her husband, through his humanitarian efforts, tried to bring peace to a war torn region. This is a wonderful love story, but it also gives another view of how decisions of the past have shaped the events of the present. –Sandra Lovely


Nell Gwyn: Mistress to a King

by Charles Beauclerk B Gwyn, N. Writing about his great-great-something grandmother, Beauclerk tells the story of an unlikely mistress. Charles II found Nell Gwyn in a theater house where she was an actress and had previously sold oranges to theater goers. From these lowly beginnings, she rose to be a favorite of the king and perhaps the only of his mistresses who loved him as a man and not as the king. Nell is an interesting character—witty and intelligent. Beauclerk is not the most gifted writer, but his love and interest in Nell and Charles II show through, making up for some slower passages in the book. And, in the end, you will also love Nell and marvel at the legacy she left behind—for good and for bad. –Jennifer Lohmann

One Train Later: A Memoir

by Andy Summers B Summers, A. One Train Later is not just another memoir by another rock musician. This book is a remarkably introspective and well-written account of the events that shaped the life of Andy Summers, guitarist for The Police. Summers recounts his schooldays in Bournemouth; his first guitar; his experiences as a young musician in London, New York, and California; and his relationships with women and fellow musicians. Summer’s recollections are fascinating and entertaining, and he describes them with humility and a great sense of humor. You’ll be hooked long before he reaches the story that goes with “Roxanne.” As an added bonus for librarians, there’s an index. –Lisa L. Dendy

Six Wives of Henry the VIII

by Alison Weir B Henry VIII Henry the VIII is a popular character these days with the TV show on Showtime and a movie about his daughter Elizabeth I. Also, popular author Phillipa Gregory has set many books during the reign of Henry the VIII and his daughters. If you like historical biography and want to sort fact from fiction, this is a great book. Don’t be put


off by the book’s length (it’s 643 pages); Weir’s writing and the engrossing subject matter move the book along quickly. Unlike most biographies of powerful men, Weir uses the varied personalities and fates of the Henry’s six wives to tell the story of the “handsomest King in Christendom” and one of the largest personalities in history. Her most amazing feat is that she manages to tell Henry’s story without letting his personality overpower the personalities of his wives in history. Each character is sharply drawn through their diaries, letters and other mementoes, rich with detail and a sense of the time. –Jennifer Lohmann

of us who followed the divorce of Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston. Caroline’s trial for adultery instigated by her husband George IV may be one of the nastiest cases of divorce in history. While we often think of the past as prudish and sedate, the newspapers of the time covered the trial in lurid detail, often with obscene editorial cartoons of the King. Women protested George’s treatment of Caroline in the streets and she became the mascot for the monarchial reform movement, women’s rights, and a host of other causes. A guilty pleasure disguised as a biography, Robbins turns views of a gentle Regency past on their head, creating a villain out of a monarch and a people’s heroine (if a very flawed one) out of a Queen. –Jennifer Lohmann

Still Life with Chickens: Starting Over in a House by the Sea

by Catherine Goldhammer B Goldhammer, C. After a separation from her husband and the realization that she can no longer afford the large, much-loved house in which she has raised her only daughter, Catherine Goldhammer decides to buy a small house that is in dire need of repairs and renovation. The other decision she makes at this juncture in her life is to buy six chickens that will make the move along with her and her twelve-year-old daughter. The unexpected gifts that this needy house and the growing chicks bring to Catherine’s life and the life of her daughter make up the rewards of this wise, graceful memoir. A book about starting over, finding one’s identity through the choices one makes, and finding hope in the face of fear, Still Life with Chickens will make you laugh out loud and shed a tear or two. The fact that the setting of the “new” house is beside a salt water pond within nine hundred feet of the ocean only adds to the beauty of this book. –Andrea Teute Riley

The Trial of Queen Caroline: The Scandalous Affair That Nearly Ended a Monarchy

by Jane Robbins B Caroline The Trial of Queen Caroline is a biography for those people with a secret (or not so secret) People magazine habit, those of us strangely fascinated by the marriage of Charles and Diana, and those



Young Adult Fiction The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

by Sherman Alexie YAF Alexie, S. The deck is stacked against Arnold Spirit. Not only is he poor, he’s a poor Indian. Not only is he a poor Indian, he’s a poor Indian with brain damage. Not only is he a poor Indian with brain damage, his best friend is the meanest kid in town. And since Arnold left the reservation to attend a white high school, he now has to play basketball against his old home team and his former best friend, who, don’t forget, is the meanest kid in town. Sherman Alexie’s first novel for teens is funny, smart, honest and true. No wonder it won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature! –Autumn Winters

American Born Chinese

by Gene Luen Yang YAF Yang, G. This intriguing graphic novel brings together three seemingly independent plots in a surprising way. The beauty of reading this book, in addition to the art itself, is the unexpected ending. The intermingling messages, like the drawings, are simple and clear: it is important to accept ourselves, and, in so doing, accept those around us we perceive as “different.” I found it a “must-read” for both teens and adults. It’s also a great introduction to the world of graphic novels! –Archie Burke


American Born Chinese

by Gene Luen Yang YAF Yang, G. Winner of the 2007 Printz Award—an American Library Association award given to the best young adult literature of the year— and a National Book Award Finalist, Yang’s graphic novel is a stunning achievement. His exploration of Asian American identity blends three wildly divergent plotlines: a Chinese legend of the Monkey King, a realistic story of a young Asian American boy struggling to make friends and find acceptance in school, and a third story about an American boy painfully ashamed of his Chinese cousin, a cousin who embodies all the worst stereotypes imaginable. The stories are engrossing and the way that they are deftly brought together is seamless and remarkable. The artwork is clean and deceptively simple, effectively drawing attention to the important issues Yang raises. This book is a must-read for anyone who enjoys thought-provoking graphic novels, such as Maus or Persepolis, and a great book for any teenager who has struggled to find their place in the world. –Sam Wickstrom

An Abundance of Katherines

by John Green YAF Green, J. Colin is a child prodigy, who despite not being very popular, has been dumped by 19 girls named Katherine—so how did he get all these Katherines? Hassan (not a terrorist) is his only friend. Because Colin is so distraught about being dumped for the 19th time, he and Hassan take a road trip and get as far as Gutshot, Tennessee, where life is a bit different from life in Chicago. This novel has footnotes—to explain some of the random facts Colin has learned or to translate the Arabic he and Hassan use when they don’t want others to understand. Colin works on a formula to figure out who is the dumper and who the dumpee and continues to read a book a day, but the adventures in Gutshot add to his education things he’ll never learn in books. –Carol Passmore


An Abundance of Katherines

by John Green YAF Green, J. John Green has followed up his award-winning Looking for Alaska with another fantastic novel, perhaps better than his first. While Alaska explored the rather heady issue of coping with the death of a loved one, Katherines addresses an issue to which virtually every teenager can relate: the break-up. Colin Singleton has just been dumped, for the nineteenth time, by yet another girl named Katherine. To combat his depression, he and his best friend, joke-cracking Hassan, embark on a roadtrip. They wind up in Gutshot, Tennessee, where they have a series of adventures with Lindsey, the daughter of the town’s factory owner and sole employer. While the plot seems straight-forward, the characters are all wonderfully realized and thoroughly three-dimensional. Colin’s journey from perpetual “dumpee” to self-aware teenager is thoughtful and hilarious. There are enough over-the-top antics to keep readers laughing, and enough introspection to keep readers thinking. Highly recommended for any teenager looking for something a cut above most YA reads. –Sam Wikstrom

Born Blue

by Han Nolan YAF Nolan, H. Born Blue by Han Nolan is a book for teens about a severely abused girl named Janie with a great singing voice. After being sold by her mother for drug money, and becoming a heroin addict herself, she still has enough talent to sing professionally with a band. The question is whether or not her singing can save her from all the horrible things that have happened to her and her own self-destructive tendencies. Born Blue is a fast-paced book that will appeal to young adults who enjoyed A Child Called It, Go Ask Alice or The Coldest Winter Ever. –Kathy Makens


Born Confused

by Tanuja Desai Hidier YAF Desai Hidier, T. Born Confused is the story of Dimple Lala, a teenage girl who was born in America to Hindu parents from India. She struggles to figure out who she is and how to be part of both cultures. The coolest part about this story is that you really get to know Dimple—all her secrets, hopes, dreams, insecurities, triumphs, and embarrassing moments. She really starts to feel like a friend. Reading this book is a great way to get a glimpse into the Hindu/Indian culture and to think about the question of identity. –Elizabeth Watson


by E. Lockhart YAF Lockhart, E. Lockhart tells the story of two theater-damaged best friends, Sadye and Demi, who attend a prestigious summer drama camp. Sadye is a straight white girl and Demi is a gay African-American boy. Although the book is told from Sadye’s perspective, there’s lots of insight into Demi’s character. He’s the type of kid who is invisible at school in order to avoid bullies, but who shines in private with his best friend, as well as on stage. Sadye is a “gawky-sexy” girl who feels born to play Sally Bowles in Cabaret. Musical theater nerds and Kristen Chenoweth fans, this one is for you. –Autumn Winters


by Gail Carson Levine YAF Levine, G. Fairest and Ella Enchanted take place in the same land, and some of the previous characters are mentioned in passing. However, this is the story of Aza (loosely based on Snow White) where the plot is even more intense! In Aza’s town, beauty and singing ability are the traits most desired. Aza has an exquisite voice with which she can do unique tricks, which she calls “illusing.” Sadly, though, she is large, homely, and ridiculed often. By chance, Aza is invited to


the castle to watch the royal wedding, and she becomes friends with the new foreign queen. The queen quickly shows her true nature and forces Aza to do things she knows are wrong. How will she get out of this terrible situation? Will she survive? Will she lose the love of her life? This is a fast-paced story that will have readers weighing the importance of beauty and character. –Carrie Rider


by Gail Carson Levine YAF Levine, G. Gail Carson Levine has written several wonderful updates of classic fairy tales. Most famous is probably Ella Enchanted, her take on the Cinderella story that garnered Levine Newbery honors. Most recently, Levine has penned her version of the Snow White tale, and this may well be her best book yet. Fairest tells the story of Aza, a compassionate young teen who feels awkward and ugly—so much so that she covers her face with her hands when she waits on customers at her adopted mother and father’s inn. While she may not be conventionally beautiful, Aza has a voice that is extraordinary. Not only can she sing superbly, she can mimic any voice she hears, and can throw her voice. Through a series of unexpected events, Aza is invited to court, where her gifts are noticed by the royals. While the princess wants Aza to use her gift to make the court believe that the princess has a stunning voice, the prince starts a friendship with Aza that grows to something more. Though Levine uses classic fairy tale settings, this engaging novel explores subjects that are highly relevant to today’s teenagers. She explores issues of confidence and self-esteem, and prompts readers to evaluate their own standards of beauty. This book is highly recommended, particularly for those who loved Ella Enchanted. –Sam Wikstrom


Keturah and Lord Death

by Martine Leavitt YAF Leavitt, M. Keturah encounters Death after losing her way in the forest near her village. Much like Scheherazade, she succeeds in putting him off by beginning a story and promising to return to finish it the following day. Death offers her a further reprieve if she is able to find true love. During the following days, Keturah continues to evade Death with her stories while at the same time attempting to help her friends find happiness and to save the people of the village from the dangers Death has warned her are coming. Full of magic and romance, Keturah and Lord Death is an enchanting fairy tale. –Shelley Geyer

The Last Summer (Of You & Me)

by Ann Brashares F Brashares, A. Love is complicated. And sometimes it is not meant to be. Or is it? Love can be a person, a sibling, a place, a time. Or it can be all of these things. And to Alice, it was everything. And just as quickly as they came together, things changed. Love, life, and loss collide in this coming-of-age novel that explores the complexity of early adulthood and picking up the pieces after everything falls apart. –Meredith Hubbard

Lionboy: The Truth

by Zizou Corder YAF Corder, Z. This book is the finale to the Lionboy trilogy. After traveling across Europe with a pride of escaped lions, Catspeaker Charlie Ashanti thinks his adventures are winding down once he is reunited with his parents. But the evil Corporacy still wants Charlie’s talent for speaking to cats and Charlie finds himself kidnapped. Charlie’s parents mount a rescue with the assistance of the lions. Meanwhile, Charlie has the support of Sergei, a cat, and Ninu, a multilingual chameleon. But will Charlie and his parents ever be safe as long as the Corporacy exists? Can a boy, a cat, and a chameleon bring it down? –Cathy Starkweather



by Walter Dean Myers YAF Myers, W. Steve Harmon is 16 years old, he’s in jail and he’s on trial for murder. Almost everyone seems to doubt his innocence, even his own lawyer. Steve writes an original movie script to tell his story. From the first page, I was dying to know what happens and what the final verdict would be. Did he do it, or was he just in the wrong place at the wrong time? Will he ever get out of jail? Will he have to face capital punishment? What will his parents do? What does justice mean in this particular case? Read this gripping, fast-paced, award-winning book to find out the answers. I definitely recommend this book for readers who can handle the gritty issues it raises. –Elizabeth Watson

Sorcery and Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot: Being the Correspondence of Two Young Ladies of Quality Regarding Various Magical Scandals in London and the Country

by Patricia C. Wrede YAF Wrede, P. This charming epistolary novel is the tale of two close cousins who get involved in a great magical mystery. Set in Regency England, the cousins alternate gossip about Lady Caroline Lamb and Lord Bryon with tales of magical gardens and charm bags. One of the best parts about this book is the way the magic is presented. There is no indication that the magic is special; it is clearly a part of everyday life. The authors capture the language of the period along with the innocence of an older teen (and the belief that they are not innocent) perfectly. This is the first book in a series and I have great hopes the others will be as wonderful. –Jennifer Lohmann


by Jerry Spinelli YAF Spinelli, J. High school. Everyone just wants to fit in. Be nondescript. BLEND. And then SHE shows up. Stargirl Caraway is like no other. It is like she is from a different planet. She dresses the way she feels,


and carries a ukulele. She serenades people in the cafeteria on their birthdays. She is different. And suddenly everyone wants to be different too. She makes everyone strive to be individuals. Until they turn on her. But would Stargirl give up her individuality to become like everyone else? Or would she vanish into the night like the stars in the desert sky? –Meredith Hubbard

Touching Snow

by M. Sindy Felin YAF Felin, M. This National Book Award nominee tells the story of a Haitian immigrant family living in New York state. Karina and her big sister Enid suffer regular “beat-ups” at the hands of their stepfather, referred to only as The Daddy. They do their best to hide his abuse, but when Enid nearly dies from a particularly hard thrashing, the courts get involved. Karina is then pressured to protect her family by telling the judge that she was the one who beat Enid up. Touching Snow is shocking, intense and impossible to put down. It’s a good choice for readers who like childhood survival stories like Dave Pelzer’s A Child Called It or Sharon Draper’s Forged By Fire. –Autumn Winters


by Stephenie Meyer YAF Meyer, S. Ever wonder if there are any GOOD vampires out there?! Find out in this not-too-scary teen novel. Bella seems to be an average girl who moves from Arizona to Washington state, but her life is about to become more interesting than most people would believe. She falls for Edward, the best-looking guy in school, but things aren’t what they seem. Once she learns the truth, how long will she survive? If you enjoy this twist on a high school romance, you’ll like the next two installments, New Moon and Eclipse. –Carrie Rider


Wide Awake

by David Levithan YAF Levithan, D. Sometime in the not-so-far-off future, the U.S. has just elected a gay Jewish president. Duncan and his boyfriend Jimmy are ecstatic. For the first time in many years, there is hope that love and kindness will reign instead of vengeance and fear. Although several years shy of voting age, Duncan, Jimmy and their friends worked hard volunteering for the Stein/Martinez campaign. But just as soon as the victory celebration starts, the election is called into question. When the governor of Kansas, a member of the opposition party, demands a recount, Stein urges his supporters to travel to Kansas to protest. The gang springs into action and heads to Kansas, and Duncan soon finds himself on journey that makes him question just how far he will go to ensure liberty and justice for all. Levithan, who started this book after the 2004 election, weaves a story about how our smallest actions and choices shape the world around us. –Angela K. Pridgen


Juvenile Fiction Billy Creekmore

by Tracey Porter JF Porter, T. Between 1905 and 1907, Billy Creekmore matures from a 10-year-old orphan to a 12-year-old circus trick rider. Author Tracey Porter, a middle school teacher in Santa Monica, gives us a gripping story in three parts. First, Billy is living in the Dickensian Guardian Angel Home for Boys, where he and the others live a meager existence in fear of Mr. Beadle’s thrashings. When a friend is apprenticed to the wonderland of the local glass factory, Billy is envious until he learns the horrors of it. Just as Billy is nearing his own apprenticeship there, the uncle he never knew shows up to deliver him to a second stage of life, with a kind family, school days, and learning a trade even better than just going into the coal mine with Uncle Jim. After schooling a year and then learning to drive mules to load coal deep in the mines, Billy learns the terrors of mining and of coldhearted mine owners and managers. When United Mine Workers organizers come to town, there’s every reason to join, but Baldwin-Felts agents rout them and force Billy to escape again to eke out a living until he stumbles into a third stage of his life. This part of the book is his life with the circus, beginning as an advance “man” putting up posters. By sheer luck, he meets his father and joins another circus, this one a “low-life” one where he and his father form an act where Billy is the “Boy Seer from the East.” But from the time he and his Uncle Jim went to the circus in West Virginia, Billy wanted to be a trick rider, not a dishonest trickster.


This book brings to vivid life the real world of child labor, child abuse, and the worst kind of exploitation that was rife before the Progressive Era of the early 1900s and the New Deal of the 1930s and 1940s. The author researched the book for five years and brought her own family history to the study. Her great-grandfather had gone to debtor’s prison when his father drowned near Liverpool. And like Billy, Ms. Porter’s mother was abandoned by her father after her mother died in childbirth and was later adopted by her aunt and uncle. Part of her research was visiting Matewan, West Virginia, where a famous gun battle took place in 1920 between striking miners and Baldwin-Felts Detective agents. She also visited the Beckley (W.Va.) Exhibition Coal Mine and the West Virginia State Museum, where she found names of numerous boys who were killed in the mines, which she used for characters in her book. Billy Creekmore is a great story, which gives insight to why unions are such a great achievement of the modern industrial world. One only imagines the stories a hundred years hence of our own era, when child labor has been exported to the “developing world.” –Skip Auld

The Broken Bike Boy and the Queen of 33rd Street

by Sharon G. Flake JF Flake, S. Queen is a real pain in the neck. She treats all her friends, parents, and her teacher as if they were her loyal subjects. When a new kid, Leroy, comes to her school riding a broken bike, wearing beat up shoes, and is smelly, she makes jokes about him. Leroy says he is an African prince from Senegal. Queen is out to prove him wrong at all costs. Queen learns a lot from the Broken Bike Boy. –Wanda Rascoe

Chicky Chicky Chook Chook

by Cathy MacLennan E MacLennan, C. This is a fantastic book to read aloud to children. The exceptionally rhythmic text reads like a bouncy groove, (e.g., “Kitty, kitty, kit cat. Skit, skit, scat. Kitty, kitty, kit cat, skit, skit, scatter.”)


while the unusual illustrations nearly jump off the page with their lively and funky movement. The story is simple. Some chicks, some bees, and some cats play outside in the warm sun. They get sleepy and all settle down for an afternoon nap. Then a storm rolls in, and everyone wakes up to the “CRASH! BANG! WALLOP!” of thunder and lightning. The animals get soaked, but the warm sun comes back out and dries everyone off. Energy abounds in this dynamic book. The illustrations are exuberant and playful, and the text is positively toe-tapping. This book is so rhythmic and spirited that even the youngest listeners will be caught up in the merriment. –Sam Wikstrom

Don’t Laugh, Joe!

by Keiko Kasza E Kasza, K. This is the story of a possum mother who tries to teach her son, Joe, how to survive by playing dead when someone wants to eat him. However, Joe has a problem—he always giggles at the worst times! His mother is starting to worry, so she tells him she’ll make his favorite treat if he learns to play dead properly. She pretends to be a series of animals that sniff, poke, and shake him, but he never gets it right! What will happen when real danger comes? You’ll laugh and be surprised more than once. –Carrie Rider

The Drackenberg Adventure

by Lloyd Alexander JF Alexander, L. This book is the third of a series of six entitled “The Vesper Holly Adventures.” Vesper Holly is a teenage girl whose global adventures are much on par with those of Young Indiana Jones, save for the fact that they take place in the late 1800s. In this book, Vesper Holly with her guardian Brinton “Brinnie” Garrett and his wife, travel to the country of Drackenberg to attend the Diamond Jubilee of its ruler, Grand Duchess Maria Sophia. However, even a simple visit means excitement and danger for Vesper Holly. Between the kidnapping of her guardian’s wife, traveling


with the gypsies, being imprisoned in a sanitarium and thwarting a takeover of the country, plus the theft of a heretofore undiscovered Da Vinci painting by her nemesis Dr. Desmond Helvitius, Vesper’s visit to Drackenberg becomes a true action adventure story. This is a good read for those seeking books about strong women, as it shows a clever and resourceful heroine out of the past. –Laurel Jones

Fabian Escapes

by Peter McCarty E McCarty, P. Of late, authors who have success with one picture book seem to follow up the winning formula with one or more sequels. Sometimes this is a great disappointment (e.g., I’m Dirty by Kate McMullen), but sometimes this is a great success (e.g., the Pigeon books by Mo Willems or the Dinosaur books by Jane Yolen). One such success story is Peter McCarty’s follow up to the Caldecott Honor book Hondo and Fabian entitled Fabian Escapes. Fans of the first book will not be disappointed. Fabian gets to have some adventures in this installment while Hondo spends the day indoors. The contrast of their daily endeavors is charming—while Fabian eats flowers outside, Hondo eats a stick of butter off the kitchen table. McCarty captures the attitude of both dog and cat with surprising ease. His simple text combines nicely with the delightfully cuddly illustrations to create a picture book that parents and children will thoroughly enjoy. –Sam Wikstrom

Fergus and the Night-Demon: An Irish Ghost Story

by Jim Murphy E Murphy, J. Jim Murphy has spun a wonderful and suspenseful tale about a clever lad whose attributes are many, but unfortunately being a hard worker is not one of them. Every request made by his mother for a wee bit of help is met with an excuse more outlandish than the last. Fergus’ only desire is to head to town for a bit of play. However, after eating all of his mother’s food and helping with none of the chores, Fergus is about to get his just desserts.


On his way to town he finds his pathway blocked by a tall and terrifying creature with two fiery eyes. So terrifying is the creature that Fergus convinces himself that it is nothing more than a figment of his imagination, due to over-stuffing himself at the dinner table. However, this is the Night Demon, and it has no intention of being dismissed. It reappears on the pathway to town, larger and more frightening than before, demanding that Fergus pay for his lazy goodfor-nothing ways. Fergus readily repents of his lazy ways to the Night Demon, admitting that he is truly the laziest man in Ireland, but concealing the fact that his laziness is matched only by his cleverness and he soon sets to conjuring a scheme to rid himself of the horrible creature. Needless to say he outwits his nemesis and returns home a wiser and harder working son, to the surprise and delight of his mother. However, I dare not give away the ending or the Night Demon may find his way onto my path. Check this book out for a clever and hair-raising spin on a good old Irish tale. (Suggested as a Transitional Reader.) –Anna Cromwell


by David Wiesner E Wiesner, D. “Flotsam is a cinematic unfolding of discovery. A vintage camera washed up on the beach provides a young boy with a surprising view of fantastical images from the bottom of the sea. From fish-eye to lens-eye, readers see a frame-by-frame narrative of lush marinescapes ebbing and flowing from the real to the surreal.” From: ALA /ALSC Caldecott Medal Home Page. This wordless picture book was awarded the 2007 Randolph Caldecott Medal. –Rheda Epstein

A Good Day

by Kevin Henkes E Henkes, K. Henkes’ latest book is a simple tale of four animals that are having very bad days. A bird loses a feather, a dog gets tangled in


his leash, a fox can’t find his mother, and a squirrel drops her nut. Happily, though, each animal’s bad day turns good as the bird flies higher than ever even without his feather, the dog gets untangled and romps through a field, the fox finds his mom and gets a kiss on the nose, and the squirrel finds an even bigger nut. Better still, a little girl finds the lost feather and her day becomes good, too. The magic here is in the wonderfully simple drawings and the spare text. A Good Day is similar in style and tone to Henkes’ Caldecott-winning picture book, Kitten’s First Full Moon. He uses heavy lines and lots of white space to highlight his drawings, making them very clear and distinct. His text is so simple that even young toddlers will be able to appreciate the lesson in coping with the inevitable bad day. This cheerful book would make an excellent addition to any child’s picture book collection. Another solid-gold offering by Kevin Henkes. –Sam Wikstrom

The Goose Girl

by Shannon Hale JF Hale, S. Hale has given the old Grimm Brothers fairy tale a unique twist and made it shine. After Ani, the crown princess of Kildenree, is betrayed by her jealous lady-in-waiting, Selia, Ani flees to a neighboring kingdom to hide and figure out how to undo the wrong Selia has done. She finds work as a goose girl, where she makes friends, but always has to keep the truth hidden. She goes by the name of Isi, learns that she is able to talk to animals and the wind, and even falls in love. Will she be able to reclaim her title? Isi is a strong and resourceful character and the book is a great adventure. –Carrie Rider

Grumpy Bird

by Jeremy Tankard E Tankard, J. Bird wakes up in a terrible mood. He is too grumpy to eat, play, or even fly. “Looks like I’m walking today,” says Bird. He walks past Sheep, who offers to keep him company; he walks past Rabbit, who also could use a walk. A raccoon, beaver, and fox join


in too. Before he knows it, a little exercise and good company helps Bird shake his bad mood. The story ends with the bird inviting all the animals to fly back to his nest for a snack. We know that sheep, rabbits, raccoons, beavers, and foxes can’t fly, but in children’s books the possibilities are endless. This book is a favorite in preschool story time. –Deborah Amos

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

by J. K. Rowling JF Rowling, J. There’s no mistaking the fact that J. K. Rowling has taken Harry Potter and his friends into increasingly dark territory with every book in this series. Yet the themes that Rowling has brought out in the first six books are even bolder here—such as Dumbledore’s “the difference between what is right and what is easy.” As Harry approaches his 17th birthday, he, Ron, and Hermione prepare themselves for their quest for the remaining horcruxes. Dumbledore has left them each a gift in his will, but are these gifts the answer to finding and destroying the horcruxes? Harry, Ron, and Hermione are in far more danger than they’ve ever faced, as Death Eaters pop up everywhere. They travel to the home Harry inherited from his godfather, they infiltrate the Ministry of Magic, they meet terrible trouble near Harry’s childhood home, and they make a desperate plan to rob Gringotts, solving pieces of the puzzle and risking their lives at every turn. Finally the time arrives for the final showdown between Harry and You-Know-Who. Will all of Dumbledore’s secrets be revealed? Will Harry and Ginny be reunited? Will Harry defeat the Dark Lord once and for all? Come check out a copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows to find out. –Lisa L. Dendy

Here Lies the Librarian

by Richard Peck JF Peck, R. Like another of the author’s humorous books, A Year down Yonder, Here Lies the Librarian takes the reader back to an earlier age. Peewee and Jake live in rural Indiana in the early 1900s and are


working hard to establish their business of servicing and repairing those new contraptions known as automobiles. The book opens with a tornado strong enough to raise the dead and strew Mrs. B.D. Klinefelder’s corsets across the county. But that tornado is nothing compared to the impact Miss Irene Ridpath, a young librarian, will have on their lives. Although the book is listed under juvenile fiction, I recommend this to folks of all ages. –Cathy Starkweather

The Higher Power of Lucky

by Susan Patron JF Patron, S. “In The Higher Power of Lucky, Patron takes us to the California desert community of Hard Pan (population 43). Ten-yearold Lucky Trimble eavesdrops on 12-step program meetings from her hiding place behind Hard Pan’s Found Object Wind Chime Museum & Visitor Center. Eccentric characters and quirky details spice up Lucky’s life just as her guardian Brigitte’s fresh parsley embellishes her French cuisine.” From ALA/ASCL Newbery Medal Home Page. –Rheda Epstein

I Love You, Little Monkey

by Alan Durant E Durant, A. In this delightful book, Little Monkey is having a difficult time staying out of trouble while Big Monkey finishes his work. Little Monkey wants to play and he does not want to wait. He throws the figs that Big Monkey has gathered for supper, crash lands in the middle of the bed that Big Monkey has made for him and swings from a tree branch landing on top of Big Monkey as he is taking a nap. When Little Monkey is punished for misbehaving, he feels that he is no longer loved. Big Monkey assures him that he is loved, even when he is naughty. This is a wonderful story with beautiful water-colored illustrations. –Deborah Amos


If a Chicken Stayed for Supper

by Carrie Weston E Weston, C. Mother Fox is on her way out to find supper for her five little foxes. “Do not leave the den,” she bids, “we’ll have chicken for supper tonight.” The five little foxes wait and wait, dreaming of the wonderful chicken for dinner. However, too much waiting can cause little foxes to become restless and they soon stray from the den. Good little foxes that they are, they begin to feel guilty for not obeying mama’s request and decide to return home; but before they do they must count to make sure that no one is lost. Each one takes a turn counting each other, but each little fox only counts four foxes. (Can you guess why?) Tears began to flow at the thought of a lost loved one; hearing their cries a mother hen comes to their rescue; convincing them to let her count them one last time. When she does she counts five foxes. (Can you guess why?) Mother Hen leads the five little foxes back to their den and finds mama fox anxiously awaiting her little ones. “I could only find vegetables tonight,” exclaims mama fox, “but it looks as though we will still have chicken for supper.” She invites mother hen to share their vegetable stew and it is the start of a beautiful friendship. This is a wonderful book to share with toddlers who are just learning to count; see if they can figure out its simple riddle. –Anna Cromwell

Leepike Ridge

by N. D. Wilson JF Wilson, N. Distraught over the courting of his mother by his schoolteacher, Tom Hammond sneaks out of his house on Leepike Ridge at night. He falls asleep on a floating slab of refrigerator packing foam and wakes to find himself being swept underground. He is carried under a mountain and into an adventure complete with hidden passages, ancient secrets, and a corpse. While Tom struggles to find his way out of this underworld, above ground his mother finds that some people believe there is a treasure under the mountain—and are willing to do just about anything to get it. A good book for people who like a mix of danger and mystery. –Cathy Starkweather


A Long Way from Chicago: A Novel in Stories

by Richard Peck JF Peck, R.; YAF Peck, R. This Newbery Honor book is set between the late 1920s and early 1940s. It is told by Joey, who is looking back on the summers he spent with his sister, Mary Alice, visiting his Grandma Dowdel out in the country. As small as the town is, Grandma is huge, both in physical size and way of living. She is clever, no-nonsense, and sneaky, but only against those who deserve it! You’ll be surprised at how soft she can be (without a big fuss) toward those she holds dear. Their adventures are hilarious and touching at once, and the characters are fun to read about, especially Grandma Dowdel! –Carrie Rider

Millicent Min, Girl Genius

by Lisa Yee JF Yee, L. The protagonist is Millicent Min, an 11-year-old ChineseAmerican overachiever, who has always found it easy to ace tests, get extra credit, be teacher’s pet, and generally shine as a star pupil. Millicent, however, finds it hard to relate to her peers—especially when she is promoted to high school at such a young age. When her mother signs her up for a summer volleyball team to add balance to her life, socially awkward Millicent gains her first best friend other than her grandmother. Teammate Emily likes her, thinks she’s fun, and doesn’t know that she’s a genius. But how long can Millicent keep up the false front with Emily, that Stanford is tutoring Millicent—when actually it’s the other way around? You don’t have to be intellectually gifted to enjoy this story of Millicent’s academic achievement as well as her touching and humorous learning experiences with family tensions, growing pains and life itself. For the same summer, but different perspectives, read Lisa Yee’s follow-up novels Stanford Wong Flunks Big-Time (2005) and So Totally Emily Ebers (2007). Author Lisa Yee deserves an A+ for creating and bringing to life such a fresh set of young ‘tween’ characters, including genius Millie, best friend Emily and pesky basketball star Stanford, in this trio of novels. –Susan Wright


Much Ado about Grubstake

by Jean Ferris JF Ferris, J. When a fellow from the big city comes out to Grubstake, Colorado, population 62, and waves money under the noses of the miners—well, who wouldn’t pack up, grab the money, and leave a town that seems to have run out of luck as well as everything else but dirt? Arley Pickett, that’s who. Arley, aged sixteen, has been running the boardinghouse since her father’s death in a mine explosion two years ago. Though she has never tried to dig in her father’s mine, she has quite a few questions she’d like answered before she goes anywhere—like why would anyone in their right mind put down good money for this apparently useless land? And what’s the connection to the secret that lies in the past of Everdene, the woman who has been like a mother to Arley? And who is the stranger dressed in black who rides into town just as life in Grubstake is being turned upside down? Arley is a resourceful heroine with true gumption. The colorful characters, humor, and mystery make this a good read. –Cathy Starkweather

Not a Box

by Antoinette Portis E Portis, A. In the picture book world, some very clever covers and book designs have been produced in the past few years. Even so, Not a Box stands out. Its brown-cardboard-box-like exterior hints wonderfully at the cheerful tribute to children’s imaginations that is within. Portis uses the simplest of artwork; minimal colors and just a few line drawings per page are used to tell a story of a rabbit and his versatile box. As the reader asks the rabbit why he is doing various things to his box (e.g., “Why are you standing on that box?”), the rabbit insists, “It’s not a box!” and we see on the next page what the rabbit is imagining the box to be (e.g., a mountain that he has just climbed.) It would be easy to use this book as a jumping off point for imaginative play with your youngster. Between this book and the box in your garage in which your new computer was shipped, you will have an afternoon of fun on your hands! –Sam Wikstrom


Once Upon a Marigold

by Jean Ferris JF Ferris, J.; YAF Ferris, J. This is the story of Christian, a boy who runs away from home and is brought up in the woods by an odd but loving troll. He falls in love with the princess, Marigold, who lives across the river. He watches her through a telescope and they start to correspond by p-mail (carrier pigeon messages). Christian decides to apply for a job at the castle so he can get to know Marigold better, and while there he learns that her mother, the Queen, is plotting to kill both Marigold and the King! How will this end? This is a fun to read fantasy that isn’t quite your average fairy tale. Guys and girls both will enjoy it. –Carrie Rider

Snowmen at Night

by Caralyn Buehner E Buehner, C. A little boy makes a snowman that looks terrific, but the very next morning he is awfully droopy. He wonders what could have happened in the night, and his imagination takes off! All the snowmen and snowwomen gather together and do all sorts of fun things! I won’t say what, because you need to read it yourself as a bedtime or anytime story. This rhyming book brings smiles galore, especially at this time of year. The illustrations are bright and colorful, and several of them have hidden pictures to find! –Carrie Rider

The Squire’s Tale

by Gerald Morris JF Morris, G. Terence is an orphaned teenager who is raised in the woods by a wizard during the time of King Arthur in England. The story takes place before Gawain has joined the Round Table. Gawain meets Terence and takes him along as a squire on his adventures. Some of their quests are from the old writings, but with a fresh spin and humor, and some are brand new. The laugh-out-loud writing and wellportrayed characters make this book an excellent choice, especially for boys who love knights. Morris has written several other Arthurian books, and all are just as funny and exciting. –Carrie Rider


The Terrible Thing That Happened at Our House

by Marge Blaine E Blaine, M. The so-called ‘terrible thing’ is a former stay-at-home mother going back to work as a science teacher. The aftermath of this is everyone rushing around in the morning and lunches at school for the children—neither of which is to the liking of the daughter. The father’s role also changes; he begins helping around the house more and fixing the meals. However his tastes in dishes are a bit outlandish for the daughter. Two busy parents also mean fewer stories, walks in the park, or outings with their father. Finally, when her request for milk over dinner is ignored, the daughter blows up. “No one cares anymore in this house! No one listens! No one helps you! No one even passes the milk when you need it!” Needless to say that gets everyone’s attention! But it also leads to a family conference and a resolution as to how to eliminate the difficulties and restore family time. While the subject is somewhat dated by twenty-first century standards—the book was written in 1975—the family dynamics are well done. The book even won inclusion on the Reading Rainbow booklist! –Laurel Jones

The Very Greedy Bee

by Steve Smallman E Smallman, S. One day a busy bee spends all day gobbling pollen and guzzling nectar, while all the other bees are busy making honey and cleaning the hive. The greedy bee will not share his nectar with anyone. He yells to anyone who approaches him, “Find your own flower! This one is mine!” He eats and eats and eats. He becomes fatter, and fatter, and fatter. Tired from eating all day, he falls asleep. As night approaches, he finds that he is scared, lost, and so full of nectar that he can no longer fly. With the help of some great friends, he finds his way home and finds generosity as well. –Deborah Amos


Wise Child

by Monica Furlong JF Furlong, M. The cover by the Dillons drew me to this book initially, but what is inside kept me reading. It is compelling fantasy set in the Dark Ages in Britain. Wise Child’s mother abandoned her long ago, and her father is a sailor who is rarely around, so she is brought up by her grandmother. When the grandmother passes away, Wise Child goes to live with Juniper, who is a witch or a healer. Juniper is kind but stern and Wise Child thrives with her. She learns about herbs, reading, and survival and comes to love her like a mother. But when her real mother, an evil sorceress, comes to find Wise Child, her world is turned upside down. She must choose the proper path, which can be difficult and confusing. The characters are superb, the story is thrilling and suspenseful, and the love is tangible. If you enjoy it, you may like its prequel, Juniper, or its sequel, Colman. –Carrie Rider


Juvenile Nonfiction Beauty and the Beast

by Nancy Willard J 398.2 Willard This version of the Grimm’s fairy tale is set in early 20thcentury New York. The merchant lives in a townhouse overlooking Central Park, and his three daughters Mona, Vanessa, and Beauty, are given a typical education for daughters of quality. But then the family loses their fortune and must move to a small cottage in the countryside. Beauty adapts well to country life, but her sisters do not easily adjust to their lowered status. When word comes of a possible source of revenue, the merchant travels back to New York. When his trip turns out to be a failure, he heads home and becomes lost, ending up at a palatial home—which turns out to be the dwelling of the Beast. The Beast takes exception to his plucking one of his roses and demands his death. Beauty returns to the house in her father’s place, but is received kindly. She becomes acquainted with a portrait of “William,” the former master of the house. When her father sickens, she begs to be allowed to return to care for him. The Beast allows this, but warns her to return in a week. Then her sisters trick her into overstaying! When she does return, the Beast is dying. Beauty’s confession of love restores him not only to health, but to human form. The re-setting of the story to Early Americana gives a slightly modern-day feel to the story, while keeping the fairy-tale elements of the familiar Grimm story. –Laurel Jones


Outside and Inside Kangaroos

by Sandra Markle J 599.22 Markle Sandra Markle is an author of extraordinary children’s science books, and this title is no exception. One of several in the Outside and Inside series, this book skillfully combines fascinating facts with questions designed to make the information more engaging and more interactive. She succeeds admirably. The entire series is fun, exciting, and filled with tidbits that kids are sure to devour. (e.g., did you know that a full-grown red kangaroo can leap as much as 27 feet in one bound?) As if the highly entertaining text were not enough, this book has more than two dozen striking color photos which beautifully emphasize the important points in the text. For example, a photo of a red kangaroo eagerly digging is captioned, “Why do you think this red kangaroo is digging a hole?” We turn the page to reveal a muchrelieved looking kangaroo laying in the hole, and we learn that the kangaroo digs shallow holes to stay cool because “being at least partly below the surface shields the kangaroo’s body from the heat reflecting off the ground.” (p. 14) This book is filled with similarly intriguing facts. One element that sets this entire series apart from other animal books for children is that Markle goes beyond the cute and cuddly, and delves into the science of the internal organs and the developing embryo. While some of the pictures may seem a little unpleasant—the picture of partially digested food in the stomach is sure to get some “eewwww!” reactions—Markle’s willingness to show the animal inside and out is bound to inspire future zoologists and doctors. Highly recommended for upper elementary school students interested in science and animals, though not recommended for the especially squeamish. –Sam Wikstrom


The Queen’s Progress, An Elizabethan Alphabet

by Celeste Davidson Mannis J 942.05 Mannis This book uses a clever approach of poems for each letter of the alphabet to describe Queen Elizabeth I’s travels through her realm every summer. While the age range listed for the book is 4-8, it seems to me that the vocabulary and the historical content is more likely to work well for 8 to 10-year-old kids. The Queen’s Progress may serve as an introduction to this famous 16th century English monarch for some readers or may build upon previous materials that others have already encountered about Elizabeth. Although the “Virgin Queen” died more than 400 years ago, she is an incredibly powerful historical figure who still generates much attention, and the book offers a tantalizing approach to an aspect of her life that does not generaly receive focus. Besides the creativity of the poems and the supplementary text, the illustrations are exquisite, highlighting the elaborate color and detail of clothes worn by the royal household. Budding historians, or some females who might want to run for President someday, may find this book exceptionally stimulating. –Joyce R. Sykes


Juvenile Biography Phineas Gage: A Gruesome but True Story About Brain Science

by John Fleischman JB Gage, P. Gory, gruesome, and graphic, yet still utterly educational? It seems unlikely, but John Fleischman’s biography of Phineas Gage is all that and more. He has written a wonderfully informative and interesting book about a little known character in the history of neuroscience. Gage was a railroad construction foreman who had a tamping iron—a 14 pound, three and a half foot long spike—blasted through his skull while working on a railroad in 1848. Strangely, the accident did not kill Gage. It did, however, immeasurably alter his personality. While he was once affable, hard-working and wellliked by his peers, he became profane, unpredictable, and sometimes “downright nasty” (p. 20). Gage’s accident was of great importance to neuroscientists, both in the 1800s and today. Fleischman expertly tells the story, weaving tales of Gage’s life after the accident with the story of the development of neurology. The text is accompanied by fantastic illustrations, including pictures of MRI scans, a photo of Gage’s tamping iron, and a full page photo of Gage’s skull. Any ‘tween or teenager interested in science would find this book highly engrossing. –Sam Wikstrom


Movies An Affair to Remember Video Feature Affa; DVD Feature Affa Black Narcissus Video Feature Blac From Here to Eternity Video Feature From; DVD Feature From Julius Caesar Video 822.33 The King and I Video Feature King The Night of the Iguana Video Feature Nigh Separate Tables Video Feature Sepa; DVD Feature Sepa Tea and Sympathy Video Feature Teaa On October 16, 2007, the world lost one of its finest actresses, in my humble opinion. Deborah Kerr had been one of my favorites ever since I saw her in The King and I, the 1956 film of the Rodgers & Hammerstein musical. To me, Yul Brynner is the “King,” and Ms. Kerr was his perfect foil as his children’s schoolteacher who challenged him to be the best king that he could be. Another perfect pairing was with Cary Grant in An Affair to Remember, the chick lit tear-jerker of 1957. Ms. Kerr was frequently cast as a primand-proper English Rose, but she made a lasting impression as the adulteress who romps on the beach with Burt Lancaster in From Here to Eternity (1953). To Black Narcissus she brought undercurrents of sexual oppression, as the stern head nun in an isolated mission in the Himalayas (1947; breathtaking cinematography), and questionable sanity to The Innocents, the 1961 film version of the Henry James classic The Turn of The Screw. Who remembers anything about 1956’s Tea and sympathy today except her line “Years from now, when you talk about this—and you will—be kind.” She was every inch a


lady who brought a touch of class to all her performances. Of today’s actresses, only Dame Maggie Smith comes close to matching that description. Deborah Kerr’s luminous screen presence as preserved in the films that the library owns—and the rest of her films—will recruit her new generations of fans as loyal as myself. –Jean Amelang


Video Feature Bent Clive Owen brought us along for a bleak look at the future in Children of Men (Oscar Nomination for Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay) and does the same justice to the equally horrifying past in Bent. Based on the play by Martin Sherman, this picture depicts the persecution of homosexuals in a Nazi Germany concentration camp. Max (Owen) is not exactly a stand-up guy when we meet him. When he enters the camp he is as self-serving and manipulative as they come. Then another prisoner catches his eye and so starts the moving and deeply-felt desire to establish a relationship amidst impossible conditions. The two men, using only the old-fashioned tools of an actor’s trade—words and facial expressions—make it convincing. I’ll spoil the suspense of the romance for you (not the ending of the movie) a little: Max changes. Under such horrendous circumstances one could argue, “Who wouldn’t?” One would have nothing on which to base the comparison either. –Cleo Bizzell

The Crying Game

Video Feature Cryi; DVD Feature Cryi If you haven’t heard anything about this movie, forget the rock; you’ve been living under an entire mountain! Neil Jordan set the cinematic world on fire with this “multi-Oscar-nominated sleeper hit.” Take Forest Whitaker (Best Actor Oscar for The Last King of Scotland), add a bunch of British actors (Stephen Rhea, Miranda Richardson, and Jaye Davidson), terrorist plots, fatal attractions and you get a fastpaced rollercoaster of a thrill ride. Check it out, watch it, love it and talk about it for weeks to come…again! –Cleo Bizzell


The Devil Wears Prada DVD Feature Devi Meryl Streep’s performance saves this otherwise pedestrian chick flick. I’m not sure that she’s the actual lead in the film, which is what she won the Best Actress Oscar for, but who cares? Note to Hollywood: even dressed in a tweed skirt and pullover sweater, Anne Hathaway still looks like a major babe. –Chuck Ebert Dreamgirls

DVD Feature Drea I have to admit that I’m not familiar with the Broadway show that Dreamgirls is based on. I gather that it is a fictionalized history of the Supremes. There are three friends who’ve been singing together since they were kids. They get their big break singing backup for James “Thunder” Early (Eddie Murphy), a James Brown-type singer. When it comes time for them to go out on their own, agent and ambitious record mogul, Curtis Taylor Jr., (think Barry Gordy) played by Jamie Foxx, wants the prettiest one, Deena Jones, played by Beyonce, to sing the leads and be the face of the group. This displaces Effie White, played by Jennifer Hudson, who has a better voice but isn’t as pretty. This film is not pure entertainment. It brings up issues from the early days of R&B. When James Early records a song written by Effie’s brother, C.C., played by Keith Robinson, a white folk singer records a really lame version of it and it becomes a hit. C.C. gets neither credit nor royalties. This happened all the time in those early days. So Curtis Taylor decides to play the game like the big boys do, which in those days meant payola. He makes James Early a star and then spins the three girls off into their own act, which is polished and smooth so that it has crossover appeal. The girls become huge. This is all done in grand style. The sets and the costumes are fabulous. The acting and singing is terrific. Beyonce looks almost exactly like Diana Ross, and Eddie Murphy shines—probably because he doesn’t try to channel James Brown. But the real revelation here is Jennifer Hudson. This girl can sing! At the end she’s doing Aretha Franklin and she’s holding her own. Wow.


There are some problems. For the first third of the movie all the music is on stage, so you think that this will be like Cabaret—a regular movie where all the music is presented in a venue in which you generally find music in real life. But then Dreamgirls throws you a curve and the characters start singing off stage. It pulled me out of the story. The music is definitely show tunes filtered through Motown, rather than the other way around. Even the first songs, which are supposed to recall the early days of “race” music, raw and percussive, are way too slick. But that’s OK. There are a few dull numbers, but overall the music is great. –Chuck Ebert

Half Nelson

DVD Feature Half Ryan Gosling gives a nuanced and moving portrayal of a middle school teacher struggling with a cocaine addiction while trying to reach a young student on the verge of making some serious mistakes. The film is about that dichotomy; in fact there’s a good deal of talk about dialectics, but in the end the script doesn’t really resolve the issue. This is a well-acted film, though. –Chuck Ebert


DVD Feature Heig James Marsden’s Cyclops, in the X-Men trilogy (Blockbuster Entertainment Award, Favorite Supporting Actor) engaged in a war off the battlefield with Wolverine for Jean Grey’s affections. Faced with Glenn Close as a future mother-in-law in the Merchant/Ivory production of Heights, Marsden finds himself in a few other triangles, the least of which is his struggle with Close to ascertain what would make her daughter happy. Spanning a 24-hour period in New York, it’s quick and to the point, but I won’t ruin anything by stating that James Ivory refused to have his name associated with this movie if Jesse Bradford did not open the door. What door? Who does Jesse Bradford play? Why was this so important to James Ivory? I guess you’ll have to watch and see. –Cleo Bizzell


The Lost Language of Cranes Video Feature Lost Long before his “Robert the Bruce” taught the idealistic William Wallace (Best Picture, Braveheart) that all was fair in love and war, Angus Macfayden portrayed “Philip,” a London college student facing that same dilemma courtesy of his emotionally retarded American boyfriend (Corey Parker). This masterpiece depicts that fine line all romantics walk between struggling to make the relationship work and making a fool out of himself. Philip goes all out, even telling his stuffy parents, a professor and book editor, about his relationship. Well, the joke’s on him when it turns out that his father is gay also. This one stands apart from most English movies with homosexual themes, and I’m not just writing that because it was adapted from a David Leavitt novel (one of my favorite authors). I literally found myself tensing and holding my breath in anticipation of what would happen next to the long-suffering Philip. Huh? The original Waiting to Exhale? –Cleo Bizzell Night at the Museum DVD Feature Nigh When my husband, daughter, and I wanted to rent a movie while we were on vacation, we had a difficult time choosing a movie that we could all agree upon until the owner of the video store on Ocracoke Island recommended Night at the Museum. She guaranteed that we would all enjoy it, and we did! Starring Ben Stiller as an inventor who dreams of his big break-through while being evicted from one apartment after another for lack of money, Stiller’s character, Larry Daley, must find a job fast if he’s to keep his latest apartment and the respect of his son and ex-wife. With this in mind, Larry takes a job as the night watchman in New York City’s Museum of Natural History. I’m not going to reveal what ensues next, but Dick Van Dyke, Mickey Rooney, Bob Gibson, Robin Williams, Owen Wilson and Carla Gugino are among the great supporting cast; and with spectacular special effects, as well as a zany cast of historical characters and out-of-control animals, this movie will satisfy the kid in everyone. –Andrea Teute Riley


Six Degrees of Separation Video Feature Sixd Before Will Smith played a super dad with his real-life son (Best

Actor Nomination, The Pursuit of Happyness), he was a super scam artist pretending to be Sidney Poitier’s son in Six Degrees of Separation. Smith gains the trust of an affluent New York couple (Stockard Channing and Donald Sutherland) by pretending to be the mugging victim/Harvard friend of their son and daughter. He not only weasels his way into their lives, but into a relationship with a charming younger couple. Paul (Will Smith) brazenly flirts with the young man named Rick (Eric Thal). When Rick initially points out that not only is he in a committed relationship, but that he is not even gay, Paul says, “That’s what makes it so sweet.” Such reckless behavior usually leads to tragedy in real life. Did I mention this was based on a true story? –Cleo Bizzell

The Sum of Us

DVD Feature Sumo Russell Crowe captured America’s heart (Best Actor, Gladiator) as the heroic General Maximus, but what first drew Australia’s attention was A Beautiful Mind that he inherited from his progressive father (Jack Thompson) in The Sum of Us. While Thompson searches for Ms. Right, Crowe seeks out Mr. Right. In this often-times hilarious peek at the plucky and resilient father/son duo, the depth of their love for one another might not make sense to anyone else, but that does not negate it; it only strengthens their love as each man’s loyalty and devotion are separately put to the test. –Cleo Bizzell

The Talented Mr. Ripley

Video Feature Tale Matt Damon ironically turns in an eerily-believable performance as the polar opposite of his character in the Bourne series (ASCAP Awards for Top Box Office Film). From the jacket: “Tom Ripley is a calculating young man who believes it’s better to be a fake somebody than a real nobody.” His memory is intact; it’s his moral turpitude that comes into question. Hired to bring back a wealthy playboy (Jude Law), his obsession with the man develops into an “edge-of-your-seat” murder mystery. –Cleo Bizzell


The Triplets of Belleville

DVD Foreign Feature Trip This quirky, charming, creative, feature-length animated movie was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Animated Feature and Best Song. The story is pretty simple: a bicyclist is kidnapped from the Tour de France by gangsters. His loving grandmother and her dog follow him to the metropolis of Belleville, where they are taken in by three aging former “chantoozies.” Grandma tracks down her grandson and the chase is on! I thoroughly enjoyed Triplets of Belleville. Great artwork, wonderfully-drawn characters, visual humor (check out the statue in the Belleville harbor), and lots of plot twists make this a very entertaining movie. There’s no dialogue, so it doesn’t matter that it’s French. You’ll love the song—and the dog! –Bill Nesmith

United 93 DVD Feature Unit This is a bare-bones story told in a documentary style. There is no exposition, no characterization and very little action. The only thing left is men and women in air traffic control towers, military bases, and in the cabin of the titular flight, dealing with this horrific situation. United 93 is one of the most powerful films of 2006. –Chuck Ebert Volver

DVD Foreign Feature Tore Volver is a spirited, brightly-colored soap opera from Pedro Almodovar. The plot is a little surreal, but that’s typical of the director’s work. Penelope Cruz turns in a great performance. –Chuck Ebert


Audiobooks Absolute Power

by David Baldacci Bk Disc F Baldacci, D. What happens when the power of the Presidency is used to cover up a crime that involves the President himself? This thriller is full of twists and turns that make the reader dizzy with intrigue. The story centers around the President and his very closest advisors and security guards. See how an aging burglar pulling one final caper gets himself thrown right in the middle of the action. In this mystery you will actually be pulling for the bad guy! –Melanie B. Sabins

The Brethren

by John Grisham Bk Disc F Grisham, J. If you are a John Grisham fan, you will enjoy this book. It focuses on a group of senior judicial people who have strayed from the path of honesty and are paying society back for the errors of their ways. They may be paying their debt to society but, unfortunately, they haven’t learned from their mistakes. Their scheme to secure their future monetary needs involves snaring a Presidential hopeful in their trap. As the plan unravels, the Brethren realize that they may have used too small of a trap for their prey. –Melanie B. Sabins

The Camel Club

by David Baldacci Bk Disc F Baldacci, D. The Camel Club exists in the world of the homeless and has members that reach into the halls of Congress. Its members meet in


strange places to discuss issues affecting national security. At one meeting of The Camel Club, the members witness a murder and in doing so become the target of some very bad characters. The problem is, they don’t know who. The plot is intricately woven and moves along nicely. It’s a good who dunnit! –Melanie B. Sabins

Clear and Present Danger

by Tom Clancy Bk Disc F Clancy, T. Travel inside the secret world of special forces and see how the CIA uses people and then makes them seem to disappear on cue. Follow them into the backyard of the drug cartels and when things get too hot, watch the CIA abandon them like they don’t exist. Then see who comes to the rescue. The book is well written and you will feel like you are actually there with the men. –Melanie B. Sabins

The Collectors

by David Baldacci Bk Disc F Baldacci, D. David Baldacci writes serial style books that let the reader get acquainted with the main players on a book-by-book basis. This book centers around his famed Camel Club, a strange group of individuals that keep an eye on the government and seek to make sure that liberty prevails. The mystery is intense and the chase scene is chilling. You’ll find yourself rooting for the good guys of the Camel Club but this time they may have “bought the farm.” –Melanie B. Sabins

Hour Game

by David Baldacci Bk Disc F Baldacci, D. This book, part of a series involving Sean King and Michelle Maxwell, centers around murders that are copy cats of past serial killers. And taunting notes to the police that imitate the ones sent by Jack the Ripper a century earlier. It all seems to point to someone in


the family of a southern aristocrat—but who, and more importantly— WHY? It is well written and will have you on the edge of your seat at times. –Melanie B. Sabins

The King of Torts

by John Grisham Bk Disc F Grisham, J. John Grisham likes to wrap his mysteries around the legal field. And The King of Torts is no exception. It deals with a run-ofthe-mill lawyer and his attempts to win the daughter of a construction tycoon. He falls prey to the darker forces of the pharmaceutical industries and big, big money. This well written and faced paced book will keep you guessing until the last page of the last chapter. –Melanie B. Sabins

Split Second

by David Baldacci Bk Disc F Baldacci, D. Sean King meets Michelle Maxwell in this book and it is the start of a relationship that will put both people in danger over and over. The story has to do with an event that happened far in King’s past and Maxwell is unwittingly thrown into the jaws of danger. A presidential candidate is kidnapped under her watch and as a Secret Service agent she has to set things right to save her reputation. The book is well written and will keep you guessing right up until the end. –Melanie B. Sabins

Quite a Year for Plums by Bailey White Bk Disc F White, B. I listened to this audiobook while taking walks during the particularly hot and sweltering summer of 2007. Bailey White’s scratchy, Georgia drawl actually adds quite a bit to this simple tale. If hearing slice-of-life stories about people named Ethel and Eula make you cringe, this book is *not* for you. However, if wiling away the time with a sweet story of endearing, old-fashioned folks sounds like


a nice glass of lemonade, then this audiobook is a perfect choice. White does a particularly nice job at capturing the little moments of life, and fans of Clyde Edgerton should give Quite a Year for Plums a try. –Marian Fragola

The Wonder Spot

by Melissa Bank Bk Disc F Bank, M. Melissa Bank first rose to fame with The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing, a book which (fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it) was categorized as a “chick lit” novel. The Wonder Spot tells the story of Sophie, a young woman who, through trial and error, must learn the delicate dance of love and romance. What sets Bank’s work apart from some chick lit books is her terrific writing style. Funny, wry, and with dead-on accuracy, Bank captures the struggle of a young woman who yearns for romantic fulfillment without having to give up her own sense of self. Anyone who has ever suffered through a family member’s wellmeaning but intrusive questions like, “so, who are you dating . . . if you don’t mind me asking,” will love this book. –Marian Fragola

Thank you to the following contributors Jean Amelang Deborah Amos Skip Auld Lynne Barnette Cleo Bizzell Nicola Bleau Donald Bradsher Archie Burke Anastasia Bush Anna Cromwell Lisa L. Dendy Patricia Dew Mark Donnelly Chuck Ebert Rheda Epstein Marian Fragola Shelley Geyer Michelle Hall Meredith Hubbard Laurel Jones Janet Levy Priscilla Lewis Jennifer Lohmann Sandra Lovely Kathy Makens Donna Moss Bill Nesmith Carol Passmore Angela K. Pridgen Wanda Rascoe Lynn Richardson Carrie Rider Andrea Riley


Technical Services, Main Library Children’s Services, Main Library Durham County Library Director East Regional Library Circulation, Main Library Stanford L. Warren Branch Library Reference Services, East Regional Library Reference Services, East Regional Library Marketing Services, Main Library Children’s Services, Main Library Adult Reading Services, Main Library Reference Services, Main Library Reference Services, North Regional Library Audio-Visual Services, Main Library Technical Services, Main Library Marketing Services, Main Library Reference Services, North Regional Library Extension Services Children’s Services, East Regional Library Children’s Services, Main Library Reference Services, Main Library Facilities Administrator Reference Services, Main Library Manager, North Regional Library Reference Services, Main Library Southwest Branch Library Reference Services, East Regional Library Manager, Parkwood Branch Library Marketing Services, Main Libary Children’s Services, East Regional Library North Carolina Room, Main Library Children’s Services, Main Library Reference Services, Main Library

Melanie Sabins Kathi Sippen Cathy Starkweather Joyce Sykes Jill Wagy Deb Warner Elizabeth Watson Sam Wikstrom Autumn Winters Susan Wright

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A special thank you to the following people for their assistance in the production of Season’s Readings Jean Amelang Lisa L. Dendy Mark Donnelly Ruth Finch Jennifer Lohmann Kathy Makens Alison Shields Deb Warner Autumn Winters


Season’s Readings is produced by the Library’s Marketing Services Division: Interim Manager, Angela K. Pridgen Graphic Designer, Kathleen A. Moore Grant Writer, Anastasia Bush Humanities Coordinator, Marian Fragola Webmaster, Jill Wagy Development Officer, Sandy Sweitzer

If you have questions or comments regarding this publication, please contact Kathleen A. Moore: 560-0150 or


Season's Readings - 2007  

Durham County Library's annual staff reading picks.

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